Landmark Drone Privacy Legislation Approved by California Legislature, Heads to Governor Brown for Signature

Sacramento, CA – Landmark legislation to protect the public from unwarranted government surveillance today passed out of the California Legislature, and now heads to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Assembly Bill 1327 by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) protects the privacy rights of Californians by establishing basic restrictions on the government use of unmanned aerial systems, also known as “drones”.

“Over the next decade drone technology will become much more common in California’s airspace,” stated Assemblyman Jeff Gorell. “There are tremendous benefits that can be realized from these tools, but only if we first pass the legislation that will protect our civil and privacy rights from abuses of the technology. As the tech capitol of the nation, California should also lead in protecting our privacy from intrusions by new technology.”

AB 1327 addresses privacy concerns by implementing strict warrant requirements for law enforcement agencies looking to utilize the technology, except in specified situations. It also mandates any government agency to provide public notice when it intends to use drones, requires drone-collected images and data to be destroyed within1 year, and prohibits the weaponization of drones. AB 1327 also makes clear that local jurisdictions can adopt even stricter rules than what are prescribed in the bill.

Drones are already being used in agriculture outside of the United States, and additional proposed civilian uses of the technology include cargo transport, communications, filmmaking, security, forestry and geology. Government agencies are currently planning to use drones for firefighting, emergency management, weather analysis, environmental monitoring, and utilities. Private companies such as UPS and Amazon.Com have also begun exploring how they can utilize drones commercially.

AB 1327 has been endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; the Los Angeles Times; and the San Jose Mercury News.

Governor Jerry Brown has until September 30th to sign or veto this legislation.