Are drones protected by the First Amendment?

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Drones Does the First Amendment protect animal activists as they use drones to spy on farmers and ranchers?

That’s the question being asked as more states across the country pass laws to protect the privacy of producers. According to the Washington Post, however, legal experts anticipate that this answer is “yes,” but courts have not yet considered the question.

Earlier this year, PETA announced it planned to use drones to watch hunters and farmers, and many have expressed concern about the ramifications of the invasion of their privacy.

In response to the growing use of drones by these activists and others, six states have passed laws to regulate drone use. In Idaho, for example, a drone privacy bill goes into effect on July 1 that will require a farmer’s permission before “farm, dairy, ranch or other agricultural industry” can be monitored with an unmanned aerial vehicle.  

"It comes down to private property rights," Idaho farmer Robert Blair said in an interview with Capital Press. "Would I let people walk around my farm without an invitation? In PETA's case, I am not giving permission to fly over my farm."

A similar bill introduced in the Missouri House earlier this year put similar restrictions on drone surveillance. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Casey Guernsey of Bethany, Mo., points that it is “completely reasonable for citizens to rely on constitutional right for reasonable expectation of privacy."

Read more here.

Texas is another state limiting drone use in private use. The legislation, signed by Gov. Rick Perry last week, includes a “broad prohibition” on public and private drone use and a long list of exceptions. However, this approach illustrates the complexity of private drone regulations.

At least one legal expert believes that these laws raise First Amendment problems. Marot Kaminski, a Yale Law School scholar, believes that Idaho and Texas are “likely to end up with a ruling that says this doesn’t pass First Amendment muster.”

Read, “Can state laws protect you from being watched by drones?”



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Fred England    
Williamsburg, Penna.  |  June, 20, 2013 at 09:13 AM

I WAS JUST WONDERING IF A NON GOVT. OWNED DRONE WOULD BE VERY HARD TO SHOOT DOWN IF IT WAS NOT TO HIGH???

k    
minn  |  June, 20, 2013 at 10:10 AM

once we find out, lets post the answer.

Herb    
Tennessee  |  June, 20, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Does the First Amendment protect spies and saboteurs? Nowadays who can say but as long as I have my Second Amendment rights those buzzing little drones will make amusing targets, flying all herky-jerky the way they do. Not to mention the herky-jerky PETA clones at the controls making those noisy little targets all the more erratic. Take your sport where you can find it, guys. Load up a few boxes of duck loads and bring on the drones! Do you suppose a good turkey call would bring em in?


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