In the ongoing effort to quell public unease about the impact of of unmanned drones on personal privacy, three more leading law enforcement groups on Friday endorsed industry-backed guidelines limiting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Airborne Law Enforcement Association, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and the FBI National Academy Associates joined the International Association of Chiefs of Police in supporting rules designed to keep police and other agencies from abusing the power that comes with drone use.
The guidelines call for law enforcement personnel to “secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight” if a drone could infringe upon “reasonable expectations of privacy.” The rules also say that any images collected by an unmanned vehicle won’t be retained unless they’re collected as “evidence of a crime” or as part of an ongoing investigation. Unless the photos or video are exempt by law, they should also be open for public inspection, the policy states.
The drone sector’s leading trade group, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), has come out in favor of such privacy protections and earlier this summer released its own “code of conduct” for all who design, test and operate unmanned vehicles.
“Unmanned aircraft help law enforcement agencies with missions such as search and rescue, crime scene photography and other dangerous of difficult tasks, often at a lower cost than manned aircraft,” AUVSI President Michael Toscano said in a statement.
The law enforcement guidelines “exemplify the community’s commitment to use this technology responsibly and with respect to the individual rights we all cherish,” he said.
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Ben Wolfgang is a national reporter for The Washington Times. Before coming to the Times, he spent four years as a political reporter in Pennsylvania. His focus is on education and science policy. Ben lives in southeast D.C. and has played guitar in several bands while still in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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