Seattle City Council considers heavy restrictions on use of drones

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SEATTLE —

Seattle police plan to use drones as a law enforcement tool, but the city council wants to make sure citizens’ civil rights are not violated.

 

The police department wants to be able to use the unmanned aircraft in various situations such as police standoffs.

 

Although the department has said they wouldn’t use the drones to spy on citizens, the city council is considering some heavy restrictions on the use of drones.

 

Under new proposed legislation, the devices could not be used to conduct general surveillance.

 

Unmanned aircraft would be used only for data collection and wouldn't be equipped with any weapons.

 

Police would only be able to look at the target of a specific investigation as specified in a warrant.

 

Blanket data collection of individuals, homes or any areas other than the targeted person or subject area would be prohibited.

 

The issue is a hot topic.  When Seattle police announced the plan last fall, it led to a shouting match with upset citizens at a community meeting.

 

Meanwhile, lawmakers in at least 11 states want to restrict the larger military drones over their skies, fearing the aerial vehicles could be used to spy on Americans.

 

A bill in the Montana legislature would ban information collected by drones from being used in court, and would bar state and local agencies from owning drones equipped with weapons.