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Senate passes bill to ban spying by aerial drone
Affects only government » Warrants needed for surveillance of someone, with exceptions.
First Published Mar 06 2014 03:09 pm • Last Updated Mar 06 2014 08:10 pm

The Senate advanced a bill Thursday designed to keep the government from using aerial drones to spy on people.

It voted 23-0 to approve SB167 and sent it to the House for consideration.

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Its sponsor, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said it will allow law-enforcement agencies to use drones for surveillance on someone only when they have a warrant.

He said it allows some exceptions, such as if a person’s life or safety is in danger, or in emergency situations — such as using a drone to cover areas damaged by flood or earthquake.

It also bans individuals from giving information they obtain from private drones to law enforcement unless it shows a crime or that someone is in danger. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said that is an important protection to prevent use of private drones as backdoor way of conducting warrantless searches.

Stephenson said he sees the bill as only a first step to control surveillance by drones, and said future bills likely will be needed "against snoopy neighbors."

When Stephenson said some drones are as small as mosquitoes, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said, "I will never look at a mosquito the same way."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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