Privacy SOS

Hanover police department obtains FAA authorization to fly surveillance drone

The small town of Hanover, Massachusetts, population ~13,000, has become the first in the state to obtain a license from the FAA to fly a drone. According to media reports, the police and fire department plan to use it.

I’m curious to learn why the Hanover police department wants a drone, and how it plans to deploy it. Do the cops have a privacy policy describing what will happen to data produced by the drone? Will they get warrants before using it? I filed a public records request to find out.

A variety of proposals to regulate drones are currently before the Massachusetts state legislature. The Drone Privacy Act, sponsored by Representative Colleen Garry, would require a warrant for law enforcement use of drones for surveillance purposes. Similar legislation in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Michael Moore, would also require a warrant for drone surveillance. Currently, no state statute requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to use a drone.

© 2017 ACLU of Massachusetts.