While lawmakers in Olympia are rarely able to agree on anything, one area where consensus seems to be emerging is over the need to regulate the government’s use of drones.
As Seattle Weekly reported last month, a bill that would do just that passed through the state House of Representatives by a vote of 83-15 Feb. 17. At the time, the ACLU of Washington applauded the move, with spokesperson Doug Honig telling Seattle Weekly via e-mail, “The legislature needs to act to ensure that society can have the benefits of this new technology without bringing us closer to a ‘surveillance society’ in which government tracks, records, and scrutinizes people’s movements.”
Today, as announced by a press release from the ACLU, the state Senate has followed suit, passing EHB 2789 by a vote of 46-1. As soon as the bill gets its concurrence vote in the House it will be on its way to Jay Inslee for his signature.
“We are gratified by the very broad support from both sides of the aisle for this legislation. It creates a clear and reasonable framework for the adoption of this emerging technology while continuing Washington’s tradition of strong protections for privacy,” Shankar Narayan, Legislative Director for the ACLU of Washington, says in the press release. “We look forward to the Governor signing it so that Washington can have the benefits of this technology while outlawing pervasive, suspicionless surveillance by our own government using drones.”
Among other things, the bill would require state and local government agencies to obtain approval before obtaining or using a drone.