Bill To Allow Use Of Drones For Certain Purposes Proposed In New York

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State Sen. Greg Ball is introducing a bill that would allow the use of unmanned aircraft systems for specific purposes.
State Sen. Greg Ball is introducing a bill that would allow the use of unmanned aircraft systems for specific purposes. Photo Credit: Greg Ball

CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- State Sen. Senator Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is introducing a bill that would allow the use of unmanned aircraft systems for both commercial and law enforcement use in New York State, with heavy restrictions.

The bill creates specific lawful uses for unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones, including use in airspace designated as a Federal Aviation Administration test site and use in connection with a valid search warrant.

It would also prevent unmanned aircraft from being improperly used by creating two new crimes: the illegal use of an unmanned aircraft to capture images and the offense of possessing or distributing the image.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International issued a report in March 2013 that showed in the first three years of integration, unmanned aircraft systems, will create more than 70,000 jobs in the United States.

It is predicted that this benefit will grow to more than 100,000 jobs created by 2025.

The report goes on to say, “while we project more than 100,000 new jobs by 2025, states that create favorable regulatory and business environments for the industry and the technology will likely siphon jobs away from states that do not.”

Ball will also introduce a bill that is industry-friendly and aims to bring these new jobs to New York. He plans to include regulations and restrictions in the bill to protect residents from unwarranted surveillance.

"While this technology presents vast benefits, we must ensure that we protect the public safety and privacy of our residents. Formulating the proper legislation and regulations now will be critical in protecting our rights and freedoms,” said Senator Ball in a statement.

New York was recently named by the FAA as one of the six states to develop a site to test unmanned aircraft at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York.

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Comments (3)

Don't ever allow this bill to happen. Enough with violating our privacy everywhere. This bill is a violation of the most fundamental rights. This is outrageous.

Making laws against every possible scenario is doing it the hard way. We already have privacy laws. This politician is ignorant to the capabilities of the technology in use and as Eric says your neighbor can get better results spying on you with an ordinary camera and a ladder or long pole than with a "drone."

Senator Ball would serve us much better by putting pressure on the FAA to hasten its efforts to provide suitable guidelines for small unmanned systems use. It seems the FAA is stalling to serve lobbyists for large companies who wish to make laws which favor only their (expensive and exclusive) products.

Hobbyists already can do many missions which the article claims will bring "jobs" but current FAA rules prohibit any commercial ventures which are already being done in other countries like Canada.

If Mr. Ball wants to really bring money into his area, he needs to stop pandering to the privacy/anti drone mania and get with the program.

First of all, it's embarrassing as a Republican that a fellow Republican would propose more laws. Nobody speaks up until it is their hobby which is being outlawed…so even if you do not fly R/C airplanes or multi-rotor” drones”, anyone who values freedom should be outraged, otherwise perhaps your hobby will be next.

Photography privacy laws already exist and are well understood by photographers (but it seem politicians are not). Search for “photography expectation of privacy backyard”. That really ought to be the end of the proposed drone/aerial photography laws. This is like creating dozens of special laws for murdering people with a specific weapon or in a special way even though murder is already illegal!

I've been taking aerial pictures as a hobby for 6+ years and have heard it all, but it always comes down to the public's ignorance and limited understanding of basic (no book required) physics. A good camera mounted on a tripod will always take much better pictures than a (usually smallish - not high-end) camera mounted on a vibrating & moving "drone". Government drones cost many thousands and into the millions of dollars partly due to the complexity of obtaining good images from a moving vibrating platform. It is unrealistic to think average Joe’s will successfully use "drones" to spy on neighbors in their pool, or in their homes (which are the top two scenarios people seem to fear).

For the pool/outdoor scenario, the drone would need to be w/in 100-200 feet to get much detail in the image. Drones have 4 or more rotors spinning very quickly and are therefore loud, even if electric powered. The subject/victim would hear the drone before it could get close enough for a decent picture. Taking pictures of someone where there is an expectation of privacy (fenced backyard or inside a home) is already illegal anyhow (Google: “photography expectation of privacy backyard”).

The other "worrisome" scenario is taking pictures of people in their homes (which is already illegal anyhow!). Why a drone is needed versus using a camera on a tripod or from a car/street is beyond me (can Greg elaborate since he is proposing restricting our freedoms?).
During the day, much more light reflects off windows than goes through them, hits a person, bounces off (instead of being absorbed), makes it back through the window, and to the camera. That's why you can't see in windows during the day. Cameras mounted on vibrating drones can't either.

So the next worry/argument is nighttime - when a peeping Tom can see inside homes. Again, it is already illegal to be a peeping Tom. But as any halfway decent photographer knows, at night you need a much longer shutter time. When shooting from a vibrating drone (or shooting handheld for that matter), you need a fast shutter speed, therefore it would be impossible to get a clear image at night. It's simply unrealistic, and already illegal.