UAS Legislation Passes in Washington State House

Posted by Betsy Lillian on March 05, 2015 No Comments
Categories : Policy & Regulations

The Washington state House of Representatives has passed legislation setting parameters around the state's use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – or what it calls ‘extraordinary sensing devices.’

H.B.1639 creates new guidelines for when a state or local agency can use ESDs/UAS and what can be done with the personal information gathered.

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, sponsored the bill (along with another passed bill prohibiting the use of cell site simulators without a warrant) and said it was a good day for open government advocates and those who value individual freedom and liberty. H.B.1639 passed the House 73-25 and now moves to the state Senate for further consideration.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Prohibits state agencies from procuring an ESD without an appropriation by the legislature and prohibits a local agency from procuring an ESD without explicit approval of its governing body;- Requires agencies to publish written policies for the use of ESDs and to minimize collection and disclosure of personal information;
  • Prohibits agencies from operating an ESD and disclosing personal information unless specifically authorized by the act;
  • Allows agencies to operate an ESD without obtaining a warrant if the agency does not intend to collect personal information;
  • Allows agencies to operate an ESD and disclose personal information from the operation under certain circumstances;
  • Excludes all evidence collected by an ESD from all court, legislative or regulatory proceedings if the collection or disclosure of personal information violates any provision of this act;
  • Creates a legal cause of action for damages where an individual claims a violation of this act injured his or her business, person or reputation; and
  • Requires agencies to maintain records related to each use of an ESD and file an annual report with the Office of Financial Management.

Rep. Taylor says the bill is similar to bipartisan legislation he proposed last year. His previous bill, which would place restrictions on drones, passed the legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor then placed a limited moratorium on the state's use of drones and convened a task force to study the issue more thoroughly.

‘While the task force didn't come to a clear consensus, we did take some of their suggestions and cleaned up the language of the bill a little bit,’ says Taylor.

‘Today's actions by the House prove once again that freedom and liberty are not partisan issues,’ he adds. ‘When we work together, we can do great things for Washington citizens.’

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