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City in Virginia Becomes First to Pass Anti-Drone Legislation

February 6, 2013 | Telepresence Options

dronesjefferson.jpg

A statue of Thomas Jefferson overlooks the Charlottesville, Va., campus of the University of Virginia.

Resolution bans all municipal agencies from buying or leasing drones

By

US News

Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.

The resolution, passed Monday, "calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court," and "pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

[PHOTOS: The Rise of the Drone]

The resolution passed by a 3-2 vote and was brought to the city council by activist David Swanson and the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group based in the city. The measure also endorses a proposed two-year moratorium on drones in Virginia.

Councilmember Dede Smith, who voted in favor of the bill, says that drones are "pretty clearly a threat to our constitutional right to privacy."

"If we don't get out ahead of it to establish some guidelines for how drones are used, they will be used in a very invasive way and we'll be left to try and pick up the pieces," she says.

[READ: White House Declines to Explain Drone Policy]

The passed resolution is much less restrictive than the draft Swanson originally introduced, which would have sought to declare the city a "No Drone Zone" and would have tried to banned all drones over Charlottesville airspace "to the extent compatible with federal law." The draft would have also banned all Charlottesville municipal agencies from buying, leasing, borrowing, or testing any drones.

Councilmember Dave Norris says the city has a "long tradition of promoting civil liberties."

"It's just part of our culture here," he says.

Charlottesville is located 120 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., and has a population of about 43,000. The city is home to the University of Virginia, which has not tried to obtain a waiver to test drones from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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