Policy: Law

Utah lawmakers to consider drone restrictions

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Associated Press,Utah,National Security,Drones,Law,Technology

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — State lawmakers are wading into the debate over drones this year with proposals to encourage development of the technology while also setting limits for government use.

The Utah Legislature is scheduled to hear two proposals on Thursday dealing with unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones.

The burgeoning technology is so new that there are no real privacy protections in place yet, Sen. Howard Stephenson told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Stephenson, R-Draper, is sponsoring a bill that limits when government and law enforcement can use drones and the information they collect.

His proposal would require that, with the exception of some emergencies, government agencies need a warrant or permission from a person considered a target of the aircraft.

The bill also limits what data can be collected and requires any unrelated data that's gathered to be destroyed within 24 hours.

Another proposal set to be discussed Thursday is a resolution expressing support for the development of drone technology and business in Utah.

The resolution, sponsored by Orem Republican Rep. Val Peterson, notes that Utah universities have several programs working with the technology. It also states that Utah is "well positioned" to help the Federal Aviation Administration as it develops regulations.

The unmanned aircraft have mainly been used by the military, but governments, businesses and even hobbyists are eager to start exploring possible uses for small unmanned aircraft.

The domestic drones, which often look like radio-controlled model airplanes and helicopters, have been proposed to assist with fighting wildfires, mapping future roads and surveying crops.

The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but is working to set up guidelines by the end of 2015.

Late last year, the FAA announced six states that would serve as test sites for drones.

Utah was one of 18 states that applied but was not selected.

The Governor's Office of Economic Development said in December that they would still like to see the unmanned aerial systems industry develop in the state.

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