BORDC worked with the organizers across the country who have been leading the opposition against rushed drone proliferation. The American Friends Service Committee, Alameda County Against Drones, the No Drones Network, and the Tenth Amendment Center all consulted on the language.
In response to the diversity of grassroots organizing efforts currently taking place, there are two models of the legislation.
One creates a drone free zone, meaning it completely prohibits the use of drones over a city or county to the extent legally permissible.
The other strictly limits the use of drones to specific situations.
Both of the models contain significant explanations of why unregulated drone proliferation and use is so deeply concerning. They also contain policy statements urging action at the state and federal level to restrict drone use.
The regulated use of drones model allows law enforcement to use drones only when they have obtained a warrant from a judge and they certify that drones are the least expensive and best option. It would also allow non-law enforcement missions, including search and rescue, fire response and prevention, and hazardous material spills but the language ensures that these exceptions will be strictly regulated. Additionally, there are very strict auditing requirements and regulations on the use and destruction of data obtained via drones. Portions of this model were contributed by civil rights lawyer David Frankel, representing a grassroots coalition called Aligning for Responsible Droning (“ARD”).
The need for action on drones right now is clear. As the prefatory clauses of the model legislation emphasize,drones have the potential to introduce ambient and persistent surveillance, meaning surveillance could be everywhere at all times and impossible to avoid. That’s because the drone technology ensures that specific and limited surveillance is impossible. When strict regulations are not imposed, drones can potentially catch images of everyday activity on their way to and from specific missions and law enforcement can use that information in any way they want. There is little incentive for law enforcement not to exploit this ability. What’s worse is that drone use will exacerbate the targeting of vulnerable groups by law enforcement. Biased policing through the local enforcement of federal immigration laws, arrests for low level victimless crimes and racial and religious profiling will inevitably increase.
Because of the major concerns around domestic surveillance drones, activists and community leaders across the country have begun to put the halt on unimpeded drone proliferation. Legislatures in at least 31 states have introduced measures to regulate, limit, or prohibit the use of drones for domestic surveillance. However, not all of the legislation has had the chance to get to a vote, and many of these bills contain significant loopholes. That is why action at the local level is opportune. Recently, Charlottesville, VA, became the first city to pass a resolution imposing a moratorium on drones, and called on state officials to implement a statewide moratorium. Just this month, St. Bonaficius, MN, followed suit, outlawing the use of drones for up to 400 feet above the city. Similarly, as the result of the advocacy of the group Alameda County Against Drones the Public Protection Committee of the Alameda County Board of Representatives held a packed public hearing around Sheriff Greg Ahern’s purchase of a surveillance drone.
The surge in organizing around the domestic use of drones has dovetailed with growing concern at the national level over the use of drones for so-called “targeted killings” overseas. Last year, in December 2012, representatives of various groups around the country created the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (NSDSW), a “nationwide grassroots network to stop drone surveillance and warfare.” The group’s national month of action in April has kicked off with demonstrations across the country, and has already helped increase awareness of the issues around domestic and foreign drone use. Joe Scarry of the No Drones Network and NSDSW, notes:
Starting with the protest at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada at the end of March, events and actions have taken place so far in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Fayetteville, Ft. Wayne, Dayton, Chicago, Janesville, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and San Diego, and dozens more are planned throughout the month.
The month of action highlights three sets of institutions that encourage the proliferation of drone technology; drone manufacturers, colleges and universities conducting drone research, and military bases involved in operating drones.
Not content to rest with killing thousands of civilians overseas, the drone industry is seeking to expand their market by spying on Americans at home, and they have spent millions of dollars to lobby Congress to that effect. Drone manufacturers and their representatives have made it plain that they are willing to go to any length to ensure widespread adoption of their military technology. As demonstrated by the presence of a drone caucus in congress, elected officials are listening to them.
The good news, however, is that the time is ripe for local organizing. The drone lobby is far weaker in cities or counties, where BORDC’s model legislation is intended to be used The models are organizing tools, and BORDC encourages local grassroots groups to edit and customize them as needed. With the availability of both models, as well as myriad resources in an annotated version of the legislation , these models can be used anywhere by anyone, including organizers without a legal or technical background.
BORDC is also available to consult on organizing campaigns. You can contact us at organizing [at] bordc [dot] org. Review our model legislation today, and join us in saying no to drone surveillance in your community!
In this issue:
BORDC releases model legislation to address domestic surveillance drones
- BORDC holds convening for grassroots organizers in Boston, MA
- BORDC’s Shahid Buttar speaks in Boston, MA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington, DC
- BORDC legal fellow Nadia Kayyali speaks to community members and sheriff in San Juan County
- BORDC legal fellow speaks in Redmond, WA
- BORDC hosts celebration reception in San Francisco on May 5
- BORDC hosts reception in Washington, DC on May 19
- BORDC welcomes spring 2013 interns
- Summer 2013 internships available with BORDC
- BORDC announces 2013-2014 legal fellowships
- BORDC in the news
- Read the latest news & analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution
- April 2013 Patriot Award: Joe Scarry
- ICE raid detains 27 on day of immigration march in Connecticut
- Las Vegas, NV, rejects indefinite detention under NDAA
- Grassroots Updates
- New York, NY: Community calls for broad profiling ban, protections against unlawful searches, and more
- Charlotte, NC: Area residents call on City Council for increased transparency, examination into Review Board’s power
- Asheville, NC: April 29 meeting will reflect on progress of grassroots organizing in Asheville
- Chicago, IL: Community events shine light on civil liberties actions across the city
- Los Angeles, CA: StopLAPD Spying coalition released “People’s Audit of the Los Angeles Police”
- California: Assembly Public Safety Committee approves TRUST Act
- #NYPDonTrial continues
- Hunger Strike at Guantánamo Continues, National Day to promote awareness
- Multiple state assemblies consider bills to stop indefinite detention
- House approves Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)
- Week of action urges CFAA reform
- Micro-grants offer opportunities for grassroots action
- BORDC to host grassroots convening in San Francisco this May
BORDC releases model legislation to address domestic surveillance drones
BORDC releases model drone legislation as organizing surges around domestic and foreign use of drones.
- States Vie for Test Sites As FAA Prepares U.S. Airspace … – lisaleaks
- San Diego Sheriff’s Department fights to keep drone facts a secret …
‘Back Country Voices’ Facebook grp. –
- California outlaws indefinite detention (constitutioncampaign.org)
- NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake Discusses Meeting Snowden and the Most Critical Revelations From Him (So Far) (dissenter.firedoglake.com)
- NY Times endorses Surveillance State Repeal Act, joining BORDC (constitutioncampaign.org)
- Pierce County has no drones, but now has an ordinance limiting them (thenewstribune.com)