The Senate advanced a house bill that limits government agencies in their use of drones, remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance, under a bill passed Friday evening.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane, said lawmakers weighed a variety of needs.
“We’ve been trying to protect as much as we can the rights of privacy of citizens of our state, and at the same time balance the legitimate needs of law enforcement,” he said.
Sen. Adam Kline, D- Seattle, also spoke in support of the bill.
“It balances the expectations of law enforcement and the rest of us,” Kline said. “This is where law enforcement meets the civil liberties of the citizens of the state of Washington.”
Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, introduced and withdrew several amendments, including one that compels Santa Claus to follow Washington law on drones.
“This is how ridiculous I think this piece of legislation is,” Honeyford said, as he withdrew the Santa Claus amendment.
He said if something can be photographed via plane, it makes no sense to ban drones from taking the same photo.
According to HB 2789 an agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions:
- For a non-criminal emergency, such as a fire, with immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury.
- For training or testing if no personal information is collected.
- For emergency response during a governor-declared state of emergency.
- Environmental or wildlife monitoring or assessment, when collection of personal data is unlikely.
The bill passed 46 to 1, with Honeyford as the sole vote no.