Drone Regulations Grounded in California

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Despite passage from both state houses, a bill to ban unmanned drone flights over private property was grounded late Wednesday by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
     Brown vetoed Senate Bill 142 which would have prohibited drones from flying lower than 350 feet above private property two weeks after it cleared the state Senate by a 21-12 margin. The bill faced strong opposition from the budding drone industry and technology giants Google and Amazon.
     Brown warned that the law could possibly expose amateur photographers and citizens to lawsuits.
     “Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination,” Brown said in a veto letter to lawmakers. “This bill however, while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.”
     Regulating the drone industry has become California’s latest technology battle along with the booming rideshare industry. Firefighters have blamed drones for grounding and delaying the takeoffs of airplanes battling California’s notorious wildfires this summer and the Federal Aviation Administration is mulling new rules for the unmanned aircraft as well.
     The legislation was inspired after a state Senator was buzzed by a drone while vacationing in Hawaii. SB 142 was meant to protect citizens from peeping Toms and balance privacy and innovation, said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.
     “Drones are a new and exciting technology with many potentially beneficial uses. But they should not be able to invade the privacy of our back yards and our private property without our permission,” Jackson said in a statement following the successful Senate vote.
     Oregon passed a similar law in 2013 while Florida and Arkansas have laws prohibiting photography of private property from drones.
     The drone industry denounced Jackson’s bill, saying it would destroy jobs and expose the state to lawsuits. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates the state’s drone industry could add 18,000 new jobs and more than $14 billion over the next decade.
     Brown has so far vetoed 10 bills in 2015.

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