NC House Committee to study usage of drones in the state - | WBTV Charlotte

NC House Committee to study usage of drones in the state


It's not just the military using unmanned aircrafts. More and more companies are making drones and everyday people are buying them - mostly for hobbies - like aerial photography. But civil libertarians say citizens should be concerned about unmanned aircrafts because they can hover above, and see and hear people inside houses.

"We understand there are deep concerns over privacy, deep concerns over safety and we want our state to jump in front of the 8th ball and not be rolled over by it" says Rep John Torbett.

Rep. Torbett, from the 108th District in Gaston County, is co-chair of the House Committee that is studying drones in N.C.

On Tuesday, committee members will hold their first meeting on the issue.

Federal law says drones cannot fly higher than 400 feet. But technology is advancing and some unmanned aircrafts have audio capabilities that can actually hear you while you're in your house. Lawmakers admit the industry is ahead of the law.

Rep. Torbett says the committee will review current laws and "then appropriately put rules and regulations on the books, as well as some additional privacy laws to provide access to the new industry for unmanned systems but also make sure safety and security of the citizens of NC is well protected." 

Committee members will get an update about what exactly is happening with drones in NC.

"The laws don't absolutely know anything about drones" Cyber Expert Theresa Payton tells WBTV. "Is it video surveillance and do you have to ask permission of everyone who is on that video before you make it public or use it for evidence? Is it evidence?"

Lawmakers say in addition to privacy and safety issues, they will also take a look at the drone industry's potential to bring jobs to the state.

"We want to jump in front of the industry and have the state prepared for the advent of growth and jobs relative to unmanned systems which inevitably is coming" says Rep. Torbett. "There's a tremendous amount of industry that is working in that unmanned systems arena. We want to make sure N.C. has the opportunity to attract jobs relative to that."

Torbett says he believes the state's terrain, mountains, and coast can attract companies that make drones.

"To be able to test, do research and development, and evaluate unmanned systems so we think NC is a place they can call home" Torbett says. "We just want to make sure our citizens are provided the security and safety."


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