February 6, 2013
Lawmakers in at least 11 states are proposing various restrictions on the use of drones over their skies amid concerns the unmanned aerial vehicles could be exploited by local authorities to spy on Americans.
Concerns mounted after the Federal Aviation Administration began establishing safety standards for civilian drones, which are becoming increasingly affordable and small in size.
Some police agencies have said the drones could be used for surveillance of suspects, search and rescue operations, and gathering details on damage caused by natural disasters.
Virginia lawmakers on Tuesday approved a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by police and government agencies.
Proponents of the legislation say the unfettered use of drones could infringe on Virginians' privacy rights. The legislation was supported by the ACLU, the Tea Party Federation and agriculture groups, while several law enforcement organizations opposed the moratorium.
"Our founders had no conception of things that would fly over them at night and peer into their backyards and send signals back to a home base," said Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico and sponsor of the Senate bill.