Are Drones Watching You? - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Are Drones Watching You?

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The North Dakota House takes a first step in protecting your privacy when it comes to the use of drones.

The use of unmanned aircraft has been a hot topic nationally, and today the issue had many lawmakers in the North Dakota House worked up.

Donnell Preskey joins us live outside the capitol with the details.

Do you know who's watching you?

It's possible and currently perfectly legal for law enforcement to use a drone to look in your living room window.

Drones are a new technology being used by law enforcement across the country.

This morning the North Dakota House voted in favor of restricting law enforcement's use of drones.

Drones can be an useful tool to law enforcement, getting into places an officer may not be able to. But some fear this new technology could lead to people being watched for no reason.

Rep. Rick Becker / (R) Bismarck: "Some law enforcement thought it was appropriate to obtain information by surveillance, in order to use that information to get a search warrant. That's the cart before the horse. What we want to do is say you need a search warrant to do private citizen surveillance."

House Bill 1373 only restricts law enforcement's use of unmanned aircraft.

Rep. Kim Koppleman / R West Fargo: "What they can't do is spy on you without a search warrant."

Rep. Mike Nathe / (R) Bismarck: "I think we should defeat this, I think this is an anti-law enforcement bill. I trust my law enforcement, if an officer is walking through my neighborhood, I think he's there to protect me. But this bill says you got to get a search warrant to look in my backyard. What's the difference?"

Rep. Jim Kasper / (R) Fargo: "If we allow law enforcement to without search warrant we are violating the constitution, plain and simple."

Rep. Wes Belter / (R) Leonard : "With the technology available now, you can have drones look in every window of your home. And we as a legislative branch are going to say that's okay without a warrant? I don't think so.

Nine law enforcement agencies in six states are using drones.

In addition, 21 states are debating bills to limit drone use.

It's an issue that is being pushed onto states to decide.

Becker: "this is a new technology that's advancing rapidly and is going to be deployed rapidly."

Rep. Curt Kreun / (R) Grand Forks "I would ask we defeat this bill at this time. I don't think we've considered all the ramifications and benefits of the technology being developed today."

Koppleman: "Technology changes rapidly, is should do now to address the situation we see now. We aren't going to be here for two years. We have an obligation to protect our citizens."

The main concern of those who oppose the bill was that it could signal that North Dakota is not supportive of drones and could impact UND's unmanned aircraft program.

UND is a lead university in unmanned aircraft research.

In the bill, it specifically says the law can not constrain or adversely impact the program.

It also allows legislators to study future implications of the use drones for surveillance for the next session.

The House passed the bill 60-31 it now moves to the Senate.

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