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NC Privacy advocates raise concerns over police drone usage

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A legislative committee will discuss drones on Monday. A legislative committee will discuss drones on Monday.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Privacy advocates in North Carolina are raising concerns about the potential use of drones for police surveillance.

The House Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems is scheduled to meet on Monday at 1 p.m. in the legislative building in Raleigh.  Right now, there's a statewide moratorium on drone usage for government and commercial uses until July, 2015.

On Monday, state lawmakers will review this 26-page report on drones.  It's a loose framework for how the state should go about regulating them, but as to how law enforcement should use them for surveillance, the report says that "requires further legal analysis."

"What we're really concerned about is the use of drones to covertly surveil North Carolinians," North Carolina ACLU policy director Sarah Preston said.

The ACLU is pushing lawmakers to draft legislation forcing police to get a warrant before launching a drone into the sky.

"Before drones really proliferate, and this really takes off, we'd like to see some good regulations in place," Preston said.

An expert on drones at North Carolina State University's NextGen Air Transportation wants to make sure any new regulations are drafted without unintended consequences. Kyle Snyder said private citizens, like farmers, can also benefit from the usage of drones.

"Using a camera like ... a multi-spectral camera, I can look at different wave lengths to say, 'Is this crop healthy?'" Snyder said. "Does it have enough nitrogen? Does it have enough water?"

It's an industry, Snyder says, could create hundreds of new jobs and help save lives in an emergency.
     
"The law enforcement concerns are valid, and that's why that policy is being developed, but right now we're not jumping into those missions just yet," Snyder said.

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Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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