Press Release
Press Release

Bipartisan drone legislation passes Senate

Bill to protect citizens’ privacy headed to Governor

By - Apr 1st, 2014 02:58 pm

MADISON – Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 196, the Drone Privacy Protection Act, on a voice vote. The bill previously passed the Assembly and now heads to Governor Scott Walker. In a show of bipartisanship, Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Rep. Frederick P. Kessler (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) introduced SB-196 to ensure drones are not intentionally used to violate the privacy rights of Wisconsin citizens.

The bill prohibits law enforcement from using drones equipped with video or audio recording equipment to collect evidence or information in a criminal investigation where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without first obtaining a search warrant.  Certain emergency exceptions to this prohibition include locating an escaped prisoner, aiding in a search and rescue mission, executing an arrest warrant or preventing imminent harm to a person or the imminent destruction of evidence.

“I applaud the Senate for passing this bill today. We must ensure Wisconsin residents continue to have their personal privacy rights protected,” said Rep. August. “I am concerned that technology has outpaced our state laws. This law would guarantee that our civil liberties remain intact.”

This bill does not impact activities of drone hobbyists, entrepreneurs or aerial photographers to use drones as long as the use does not intentionally violate an individual’s privacy interests in places where they have the expectation of privacy, such as their homes.

“We must ensure that neither law enforcement, nor an individual, is permitted to use a drone in violation of anyone’s rights to privacy,” said Rep. Kessler. “This bill balances current constitutional protections with new law enforcement opportunities afforded by drones that could be critical in saving lives or other emergency situations.”

The bill also prohibits an individual from attaching a weapon to a drone.

“Our civil liberties are nothing to be taken lightly. Our Constitution guarantees our rights can only be intruded upon through due process of the law,” said Rep. Craig. “This bill protects our important civil liberties.”

Drone privacy laws are in place in Florida, Idaho and Virginia. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, drone privacy laws have been introduced in 39 states.

“Drone technology now allows an individual to be recorded in their homes by drones as small as birds and immediately uploaded to the internet,” said Rep. Taylor. “I think this prospect is unnerving to most people and exactly what this bill is designed to prohibit.”

The bill now heads to Governor Walker for his approval.

For more information, contact:
Rep. Tyler August, 608-266-1190
Rep. Fred Kessler, 608-266-5813
Rep. Dave Craig, 608-266-3363
Rep. Chris Taylor, 608-266-534

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