New drone bill proposed in Utah –police could potentially shoot drones out of the sky

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The latest drone bill popped up in Utah this month which would allow police officers to shoot drones down out of the sky. This is an interesting proposal since there is currently litigation pending in Kentucky regarding a private citizen shooting down a drone that hovered above his ‘personal airspace.’ Senator Wayne Harper introduced this bill to establish criminal penalties for misusing drones and allowing first responders to “neutralize” the drone. The types of misuse contemplated by this bill include voyeurism, flying them within 500 feet of a correctional facility, photographing near crowds of more than 500 people, and flying them within 3 miles of a wildfire. Harper says in support of his bill, “We’ve had drones that have followed somebody down the street –watch them as they close the door and then watch them through the window of their house after they have gone inside.” Commercial drones that obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licenses would be exempt from this bill. The concern with type of regulation is that it could pose more of a safety threat than the threat originally posed by the drone. However, Harper’s bill includes language forbidding police officers from disabling or destroying drones if it would injure people or animals. If this Utah bill passes, Utah would be the 27th state to pass drone safety and privacy laws, including other states like California, Florida, and Arkansas.

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