Quinn Signs Bill To Regulate Use Of Drones
By The Associated Press, with addtional reporting from Illinois Public Radio
Illinois police departments will be restricted in how they can use drone aircraft under a new law signed Tuesday by Governor Pat Quinn.
The law says police have to treat drones like they would a search, convincing a judge they have probable cause in order to get a warrant.
Drones are sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that authorities are considering for aerial surveillance. The law requires authorities to obtain a search warrant before using a drone to collect information.
The "Freedom From Drone Surveillance Act," is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Daniel Biss, from Evanston. He said police are not going to be using large drones with weapons like the military.
"We're often talking about very small flying objects," he said. "Many of them weigh like four pounds, for example."
Biss said someday, such small aircraft might be able to use facial recognition technology to identify someone, then surreptitiously follow them around.
"Now that's not happening right now, in Illinois, but the technology is very, very rapidly evolving," he said.
So he thought the time was right for pre-emptive rules. Police will have treat drones like they would any other search.
That means, unless it's to prevent an imminent threat - like a terrorist attack - they'll have to get a judge to sign off on a warrant.
The American Civil Liberties Union praises the new law as appropriate and reasonable.
The legislation outlines a few exceptions, including when the Department of Homeland Security decides surveillance is needed to prevent a terrorist attack.