JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE AND REGULATION OF DRONES.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
On July 10, 2015, Austin Haughwout of Clinton posted a video on YouTube of a drone he had modified to remotely fire an attached handgun. This was followed by another video posted on December 7, 2015, showing a drone firing a flamethrower. These videos sparked national interest and were covered by a large number of news outlets. This resulted in ongoing investigations by state and federal authorities. The public interest in these events has concerned the risk drones pose if weaponized by a person with criminal intent.
Handgun drone video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqHrTtvFFIs
Flamethrower drone video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmD3rXUR1Tw
Verbal Amendment by Sen. Kissel: The part of the bill concerning POST regulation (Sec. 7(g)(1)) will include language that specifically directs POST to develop regulations concerning drone weaponization. This should be included to ensure law enforcement addresses issues concerning drone weaponization.
Verbal Amendment by Rep. Berger: The part of the bill concerning POST regulation (Sec. 7(g)(1)) will include language that specifically directs POST to report all regulations as a result of this bill, upon their completion, to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committees.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
AFSCME Council 4, Brian Anderson: Supports the bill, especially Section 8, which makes it a felony to fly a drone over a correctional facility to deliver contraband. This has been occurring regularly in other states and overseas. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has issued a request for proposal for anti-drone technology to prevent such acts.
American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, Executive Director David McGuire: Supports the bill because there is currently no laws at the state level regulating the use of drones. Connecticut needs this law as 20 other states have already passed similar legislation. At least three police departments in Connecticut have begun drone operations without state oversight. The bill requires law enforcement to seek a warrant or written permission to operate a drone on private property. The bill also places limits on data retention that was gathered by drone. This is all in keeping with the recommendations generated by the Public Review and Investigation Committee's Drone Use Regulation report.
Connecticut Airport Authority, Executive Director Kevin A. Dillon: Supports the bill because of the language in Sections 4 and 5 which establish penalties for the reckless use of an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Office of the Chief Public Defender, Assistant Public Defender Tejas Bhatt: Supports the bill because Section 10 of the bill addresses past concerns with the Fourth Amendment. It requires law enforcement to seek a warrant or written permission to operate a drone on private property. The bill also places limits on data retention that was gathered by drone.
Barbara Fair of West Haven: Supports the bill because it prevents private individuals from weaponizing drones. She does not support permitting police being able to turn drones into weapons. Drones have been used as weapons of war and such weapons do not have a place in civil society.
Peter Sachs, Esq.: Supports the bill as a nationally known drone attorney and editor of the online Drone Law Journal. The bill does not conflict with current federal regulation, issued by the FAA titled “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” However, the current bill fails to: require drone operators and pilots to adhere to federal aviation statutes and regulations; contains no provision for tortious invasion of privacy; neglects to clarify that all existing and future criminal statutes apply if criminal conduct is committed with an unmanned aerial vehicle; contains no prohibition against persons interfering with unmanned aerial vehicles or interfering with those operating them; does not recognize the federal government's sole and exclusive jurisdiction over airmen, airspace, and aircraft and its deference to states with respect to the specific areas in which states may regulate; it does not create state preemption over attempted regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles by municipalities, thereby allowing for a non-uniform scheme of regulation statewide caused by different interpretations of the law from municipality to municipality. These issues are addressed under HB 6195.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Connecticut Police Chiefs Association: Opposed to the bill because drones are a relatively new technology and the potential misuses of them by criminal enterprise are not yet fully understood. Placing limitations on how law enforcement can employ this technology is premature. Action should be taken after a study is conducted as proposed in SB 1003 Section 9.
Julia Friend of New Haven: Opposed to the bill because it permits police to weaponize drones. This technology would not assist in de-escalating situations.
Caroline Kanner of New Haven: Opposed to the bill because it permits police to weaponize drones.
Reported by: Maxwell LaFrance