Privacy SOS

New North Dakota law allows police to weaponize drones

The sausage making that is legislative compromise sometimes produces products that are very difficult to swallow. For example, lawmakers in North Dakota just passed a bill requiring police to get a warrant before using drones to spy on people—but the new law also allows police to arm drones with tasers and tear gas. What could possibly go wrong!

The initial bill included a blanket ban on weaponized drones, but a law enforcement and drone industry friendly lobbyist managed to tweak the language at the last minute to allow so-called “less lethal” weapons.

Drone manufacturers are already pitching their products as anti-dissent, crowd control technologies. A South African company promotes one of its drones, equipped with guns that shoot plastic munitions, to mining corporations facing labor strikes.

Here in Massachusetts, the Drone Privacy Act sits before the state legislature. That bill would both require police to get a warrant before spying on you with a drone, and prevent them from arming the flying robots.

© 2018 ACLU of Massachusetts.