The State Senate voted 32-0 on Thursday for legislation to protect citizens from unwarranted surveillance by drones and to help ensure compliance of the unmanned planes with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus announced in a press release.
Senate Bill 796, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), defines “drones” and requires a search warrant to be issued by a judge before a drone can be used in Tennessee.
“The Federal Aviation Administration predicts 10,000 commercial drones could be in the skies by 2020,” said Senator Beavers. “As this number increases, it is very important that they are operated responsibly and consistently, as well as in accordance with our Fourth Amendment Rights.”
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.
The bill does provide for exceptions to prevent imminent danger to life when law enforcement authorities are countering a high risk of a terrorist attack, looking for a fugitive, monitoring a hostage situation or helping find a missing person. If drones violate these provisions, civil action may be filed under the legislation. The measure also requires that data will be private and deleted no later than 24 hours after acquisition.
Beavers said the bill is modeled after a recently passed Florida law. Eleven states have filed or passed similar legislation.