Colorado: Udall working on a bill to regulate drone use

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The Aerovision Fulmar drone was developed primarily to help fishermen find tuna.

New legislation aimed at protecting privacy

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With drone technology becoming prevalent for surveillance and other purposes, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said he is writing legislation aimed protecting the privacy rights.

In a release, Udall said unmanned aerial systems technology has the potential to create jobs and provide significant benefits for local law enforcement and private businesses, but   privacy safeguards — at the state and federal levels — have not kept pace with the technology.

Unmanned aerial technology can be used for oil and gas exploration, transporting goods, scientific research, search and rescue missions, conservation work and forest fire detection.

“Private sector drones and unmanned aerial systems could positively reshape numerous industries and efforts, from search-and-rescue operations to agriculture and local TV news. But the only way to truly embrace these innovative, job-creating technologies, is to assure the public that these technologies will not compromise Coloradans’ basic privacy rights,” Udall said. “I am working to finalize legislation that will respond to the concerns of Coloradans who want to ensure that there are common-sense safeguards to protect them from the improper use of drones.”

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates there could be as many as 30,000 unmanned aerial vehicles in U.S. airspace within the next decade.

Udall is working to update safeguards to protect Americans from being surveilled by private drone operators without their consent, addressing concerns raised by his constituents while helping to head off possible legal problems for an emerging and potentially important industry for Colorado.

Udall’s announcement follows a hearing during which the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from experts on the domestic use of private drones, including a representative of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

Legislation Congress passed last year recognized the need for reasonable regulations to responsibly drive the unmanned aerial systems market, proposing as a first step the establishment of six unmanned aerial systems test sites across the country. An alliance of organizations and businesses in Colorado is preparing to submit an application to the FAA for one of the six unmanned aerial systems test sites, an effort Udall supports.

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