PA Senate Proposal Would Limit Drone Use

Jul 26, 2015

The Pennsylvania state Capitol building in Harrisburg.
Credit Harvey Barrison / Flickr

A state Senate plan in Pennsylvania would curb the use of drones by state and local government.

Several other states have enacted laws limiting the use of drones for surveillance or hunting purposes, and federal rules for civil drones are still in the works. But Pennsylvania has no specific laws governing unmanned aircraft systems.

Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon County) said he wants to limit government agencies’ use of drones. He’s worried they could violate someone’s right to be protected from search and seizure. “I’ve heard of some scenarios where they’re flying around certain cities and they’re watching people,” said Folmer. “It’s kind of like big brother, you know, watching everybody.”

Folmer calls his measure a two-year moratorium, though it would still allow governments to fly drones if they obtain a warrant. The plan wouldn’t apply to National Guard training, search and rescue missions, and missing children investigations.

“This is kind of my thing. I’m a big constitutionalist,” said Folmer. “I just want to make sure my freedoms and my liberties are not going to be violated.”