Illinois Drone Nullification Gets Final Approval, Heading to Governor’s Desk

By on June 4, 2013
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by Mike Maharrey

An Illinois bill restricting drone spying to the point of near extinction now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

If signed into law, SB1587 would prohibit law enforcement angencies from using unmanned drones to gather evidence or other information without a warrant in most cases.

The House overwhelmingly passed the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act 105-12 on May 30. The Senate gave its approval 52-1 in April and quickly concurred with two House Amendments the day after House passage. SB1587 now moves on to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature.

The act does leave the door open for some drone use.  The prime exception allows for the use of drones “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.” In addition, the bill would permit law enforcement agencies to use drones when attempting to locate a missing person, as long as that flight was “not also undertaking a criminal investigation.”  It would also allow for review of a crime scene and traffic crash scene photography.  Any information gathered by a drone would have to be destroyed within 30 days, unless the information proved to contain evidence of criminal activity, or was relevant to a trial or investigation.

The House amendments actually strengthened the bill.

The first tightened up admissibility provisions. It now provides that if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a law enforcement agency used a drone to gather information in violation of the information gathering limits in of the Act, then the information shall be presumed to be inadmissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding. It does allow that the State may overcome this presumption by proving the applicability of a judicially recognized exception to the exclusionary rule of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article I, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution to the information. It also provides that nothing in the Act shall be deemed to prevent a court from independently reviewing the admissibility of the information for compliance with the aforementioned provisions of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions.

The second amendment deleted a provision that permitted the use of drone by a law enforcement agency if the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent serious damage to property.

The Senate concurred with both amendments unanimously.

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One Comment

  1. lin

    June 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    NO drones over American citizens. I live in North Carolina and want legislation criminalizing the use of drones.

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