Protect Tennesseans from Drone Surveillance
UPDATE: This legislation passed both chambers and was signed into law by the governor on May 20, 2013.
What SB 0796/HB 0591 does: This bill would implement the “Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act,” which would limit the warrantless use of drones by law enforcement except under special, limited circumstances.
Why ACLU-TN supports this bill: This bill safeguards the privacy rights of Tennesseans by putting meaningful limits on the use of surveillance drones. Unregulated use of drones could have a chilling effect on the use of public spaces (and other First Amendment protected activities), or result in voyeurism, discriminatory targeting, institutional abuse, and automated law enforcement.
- Our privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that this new technology will be used responsibly and consistently with our democratic values. We need clear privacy rules so that we can enjoy this new technology without sacrificing our privacy.
- We need a system of rules to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of this technology without bringing us closer to a “surveillance society,” in which everyone’s move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by authorities.
- Such technology is often used in a discriminatory fashion, disproportionally targeting communities of color.
- Without limits, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles has potential to be abused, either by individuals or by entire institutions creating bad practices. For example, in the 20th century, the FBI engaged in illegal surveillance of those challenging the status quo. With this new technology, we need to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself, costing us our privacy rights in the process.