You may not see them in the sky just yet, but drones are on their way. And without legislation regulating their use, local police departments won’t need a warrant to secretly track you or your family 24 hours a day.
Thankfully, legislators in Virginia aren’t waiting around to witness the abuse of power that using drones this way creates. They passed a bill in February that halts their use for two years, while privacy protection can be properly addressed.
But bigwigs in the drone industry, afraid of losing business, launched a smear campaign against the bill this week, putting it in severe jeopardy. Governor Bob McDonnell could kill the bill or sign it into law at any moment, so we have to act fast to push back against the corporate lobbyists.
This bill could be the first domino to fall on drones in the U.S., for bad or good. If we win in Virginia, states across the country can follow suit to stem the tide of unregulated drones. But if the drone industry wins, the warrantless use of drones could spread across the country. Act now to keep profits from trumping privacy.
Help pass the first law in the nation to say “no” to drones. Sign the petition telling Virginia’s governor to support the moratorium on drones.
The use of unmanned aircraft to spy on Americans is a growing national problem. Drones are already cheap and readily available on the market, and now the federal government is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to open domestic airspace to drones by 2015.
In the past, Governor Bob McDonnell embraced Department of Homeland Security funds for drones with open arms. But mounting pressure from his own party against drones, his national aspirations, and the potential for a huge media moment could mean that the governor is ready to change his stance. Let him know now that he has the opportunity to make Virginia an important national example of protecting Americans from abuse of government power.
Drones may be useful surveillance tools for law enforcement, but they pose a newly grave threat to our privacy and could usher in an era of constant monitoring of our movements when we leave our homes. And contrary to the claims of drone manufacturers, the Virginia bill accounts for public safety and emergency preparedness while simply calling for reasonable regulation in use of this new technology by law enforcement.
With federal bipartisan legislation about drones being introduced this month on Capitol Hill and over 30 state bills about drones pending around the country, victory in Virginia would set the national stage to prevent a scary surveillance society in the present and demand the same for the future.
Go to this site to quickly sign a letter from the ACLU to Governor McDonnell: