NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A6370
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to
imposing limitations on the use of drones within the state
PURPOSE: To protect New York State residents from unwarranted and
unauthorized use of drones or other unmanned aircrafts to conduct
surveillance upon them inside their homes or place of worship or within
the closed confines of their property or other locations where a person
would have an expectation of privacy.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The bill amends the civil rights law,
section 52, Right of Privacy, by adding a new section 52-a entitled
"Limitations on the use of drones." The bill provides for limitations on
the use of a drone by a person, entity, law enforcement agency, and
state, county or municipal agency to gather, store or collect evidence
of any type, including audio or video recordings, or both, or other
information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of
a-statute or regulation, except to the extent specifically authorized by
a valid search warrant.
In the event that exigent circumstances exist, the bill provides the use
of drones by a law enforcement agency if it possesses reasonable suspi-
cion that swift action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life.
The use of a drone by a law enforcement agency is not prohibited in the
event that a law enforcement agency:(1) obtains a valid search warrant
that authorizes the use of a drone that is used only to obtain evidence
on the person named in the warrant; and (2) is actively engaged in the
enforcement of article two hundred twenty of the penal law.
Any evidence or information obtained or collected in violation of
section 52-a of this bill, and all evidence derived from such evidence
or information, shall be inadmissible in a criminal or civil proceeding
in any court of law in the sate or in an administrative hearing.
An aggrieved party may initiate a civil action against a law enforcement
agency to obtain all appropriate relief in order to prevent, restrain or
remedy a violation of section 52-a of this bill.
The bill provides that violation of section 52-a of this bill is a class
8 misdemeanor, and a class C felony if the violation is committed in the
course of or in conjunction with a felony.
JUSTIFICATION: The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012 ordered the Feder-
al Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and
licensing of commercial drones by 2015. The new federal law has raised
concerns among private advocates that the commercial expansion would
lead to widespread use of drones for electronic surveillance by law
enforcement agencies and private companies across the country.
At a cost of approximately $300, one can easily purchase a drone which
contains a high definition camera that takes photographs, records video
and conversations for hours, and can be controlled by a cellular device.
In order to preserve the privacy rights of citizens against unwarranted
intrusion, we must act to ensure that drones are not misused. The feder-
al government is taking further measures in 2013 by introducing new
legislation to ensure and protect individual privacy against unwarranted
governmental intrusion through the use of drones, i.e., "Preserving
Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013".
Law enforcement agencies in New York State recently announced that they
would consider evaluating the use of drones as a surveillance tool. For
police departments, drones are more affordable than helicopters. The
potential increased use of drones by law enforcement, state, county, and
municipal agencies has prompted local and state lawmakers to outline how
drones can be used by these entities. According to the National Confer-
ence of State Legislatures, at least 18 states have introduced bills to
limit or regulate the use of drones. Subsequently, this bill seeks to
impose limitations on the use of drones in order to protect the privacy
rights of New York State residents.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2013-2014 Regular Sessions
March 26, 2013
Introduced by M. of A. PERRY -- read once and referred to the Committee
on Governmental Operations
AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in relation to imposing limita-
tions on the use of drones within the state
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Empire
2 State citizens' protection from unwarranted surveillance act".
3 § 2. The civil rights law is amended by adding a new section 52-a to
4 read as follows:
5 § 52-a. Limitations on the use of drones. 1. No law enforcement agency
6 or a state, county or municipal agency shall use a drone or other
7 unmanned aircraft to gather, store or collect evidence of any type,
8 including audio or video recordings, or both, or other information
9 pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or
10 regulation except to the extent specifically authorized in a valid
11 search warrant; provided, however, that the use of a drone by a law
12 enforcement agency or a state, county or municipal agency is not prohib-
13 ited when exigent circumstances exist. For the purposes of this
14 section, exigent circumstances exist if a law enforcement agency
15 possesses reasonable suspicion that swift action is necessary to prevent
16 imminent danger to life.
17 2. No person, entity, or state agency shall use a drone or other
18 unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance of or to monitor any individ-
19 ual inside his or her home or place of worship or within the closed
20 confines of their property or other locations where a person would have
21 an expectation of privacy.
22 3. This section does not prohibit the use of a drone:
23 a. by a law enforcement agency:
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 6370 2
1 (1) if the law enforcement agency first obtains a valid search warrant
2 that authorizes the use of a drone and the use of the drone is used only
3 to obtain evidence on the person named in the warrant; and
4 (2) that is actively engaged in the enforcement of article two hundred
5 twenty of the penal law;
6 (3) to patrol national borders to prevent or deter illegal entry of
7 any persons or illegal substances; or
8 (4) to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific indi-
9 vidual or organization based on credible intelligence determined by the
10 commissioner of homeland security and emergency services; or
11 b. by a person for lawful purposes, including recreational or hobby
13 4. a. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty
14 of a class B misdemeanor; provided, however, that if the violation of
15 the provisions of this section is committed in the course of or in
16 conjunction with the commission of a felony, a person who violates the
17 provisions of this section is guilty of a class C felony.
18 b. Any evidence or information obtained or collected in violation of
19 the provisions of this section, and all evidence derived from such
20 evidence or information, shall be inadmissible in a criminal or civil
21 proceeding in any court of law in the state or in an administrative
23 c. An aggrieved party may initiate a civil action against a law
24 enforcement agency to obtain all appropriate relief in order to prevent,
25 restrain or remedy a violation of this section.
26 5. As used in this section:
27 a. "Drone" means a powered or an un-powered aerial vehicle or a
28 balloon float or other device that:
29 (1) does not carry a human operator;
30 (2) uses aerodynamic forces or gases to provide lift;
31 (3) can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely;
32 (4) can be expendable or recoverable;
33 (5) captures images of objects of people on the ground and in the air;
34 (6) intercepts communications on the ground and in the air; and/or
35 (7) can carry a lethal or non-lethal payload.
36 b. "Exigent circumstances" means conditions requiring the preservation
37 of secrecy, and whereby there is a reasonable likelihood that a continu-
38 ing investigation would be thwarted by alerting any of the persons
39 subject to surveillance to the fact that such surveillance had occurred.
40 c. "Law enforcement agency" means a lawfully established state or
41 local public agency that is responsible for the prevention and detection
42 of crime, the enforcement of local government codes and the enforcement
43 of penal, traffic, regulatory, game or controlled substance laws and
44 includes an agent of the law enforcement agency.
45 d. "Search warrant" means a search warrant as defined in section
46 690.05 of the criminal procedure law.
47 e. "Unmanned aircraft" means an aircraft that is operated without the
48 possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.
49 § 3. Severability. If any provision of this act or its application to
50 any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not
51 affect other provisions or applications of the act that can be given
52 effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the
53 provisions of this act are severable.
54 § 4. This act shall take effect immediately.