Flagged Bill: SB 167 – Regulation of Drones, Sen. Stephenson

utah republican senator howard stephenson
Sen. Howard Stephenson (Republican – Draper)

***Note: this bill has been substituted, this analysis may no longer be valid***

It is a brave new world we live in, and, often times, the law drags behind our technological advancements.

Indeed, one advancement, the use of flightless drones to monitor and collect data, is a relatively new one. Nationally, debate rages over the proper use of drones for warfare, intelligence gathering, and less clandestine operations such as mapping and surveying.

Though it is doubtful that Utah will be invading Idaho with an army of drones any time soon, the reality of the situation is that our skies will be populated with flightless drones sooner than we think.

In an attempt to get ahead of the situation Senator Howard Stephenson (Republican -Draper) is proposing SB 167 – Regulation of Drones.

The bill sets forth guidelines similar to those already associated with traditional guidelines associated with executing search warrants for covert investigation of criminal activities. Currently the law covers other investigative tools such as wiretaps and undercover operations.

Only specific individuals will be able to operate drones, and regular reporting of drone use will be required, with the Department of Public Safety as the holders of any and all data collection related to drone usage.  Drones would be permitted prior to the receipt of a search warrant so long as the requester has a reason to rush (a crime is eminently taking place, for example). That being said, a warrant must still be received within two days and, if not received, any information collected must be destroyed.

The law also allows for the use of drones for other emergency situations, such as search and rescues.

Presuming the bill passes, time will tell if the measures outlined by Stephenson’s bill are effective or if further action needs to take place in the future. But, by setting reasonable guidelines at the start of this new technological advancement, the state will have a framework to build on.

To contact Senator Stephenson, click here or call 801-572-1038.

Impact on Average Utahn:

High Impact   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   No Impact

Need for Legislation:

Necessary   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   Unnecessary

Lemon Score:

Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

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