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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • House backs curb on airborne surveillance

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  • Missouri House members approved legislation Thursday aimed at restricting use of aircraft and aerial drones for surveillance of people, farms and private property.
     
    The legislation would require a warrant to use manned or unmanned aircraft to gather evidence of violations of the law or regulations. People, organizations and state agencies would be barred from using aircraft for surveillance without the permission of the individual or property owner. Journalists and news organizations would be specifically blocked from using drones or unmanned aircraft without permission.
     
    Drones and manned aircraft still could be used by law enforcement without a warrant if there is a reasonable suspicion of imminent danger.
     
    Sponsoring Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, said it is "completely reasonable for citizens to rely on constitutional right for reasonable expectation of privacy." He has said the legislation was prompted by concerns over an Environmental Protection Agency initiative that used small airplanes to look for pollution problems at cattle farms in Iowa and Nebraska.
     
    Several lawmakers raised concerns Thursday that the measure could hamper Missouri law enforcement.
     
    Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, said the bill had become too broad and "completely grounds any use of air support in law enforcement."
     
    The bill was approved 87-66, which is just a few voters more than minimum of 82 needed to pass legislation. It now goes to the Senate.
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