ACLU of Wisconsin Supports Bipartisan Bill Restricting Drones

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2013

CONTACT: Sarah Karon, Communications Director, (608) 469-5540, skaron@aclu-wi.org

MADISON, WI – Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin issued a statement in response to proposed legislation restricting the use of drones.

The bipartisan bill, proposed by Representatives Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), David Craig (R-Town of Vernon), Frederick Kessler (D-Milwaukee) and Chris Taylor (D-Madison), would prohibit law enforcement and individuals from using drones without a warrant, except in special circumstances. It would also bar the private use of drones equipped with video or audio equipment, or with a weapon.

Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, issued the following statement: 

We support bipartisan efforts to restrict the use of drones in Wisconsin. Domestic drones could pose unavoidable privacy concerns and threaten our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. Unregulated use of drones could create a chilling effect on people’s use of public spaces, or lead to voyeurism, unfair targeting, institutional abuse and automated policing. We need clear laws that govern this technology. 

This bipartisan bill will help safeguard the privacy of all Wisconsinites. The legislation’s warrant requirement is particularly important. Law enforcement should only deploy drones with a warrant, in an emergency, or when there are grounds to believe that the drone will collect evidence relating to a specific criminal act.

The ACLU of Wisconsin is concerned that drones could add another dimension to law enforcement surveillance in Wisconsin that already uses several high technology systems and devices. In March we filed public records requests with several Wisconsin law enforcement agencies seeking information on their use of drones, GPS tracking devices, automated license plate readers, devices capable of facial or behavioral recognition, and other technology. We will release findings on these requests as they become available.   
 

The ACLU of Wisconsin is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 7,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison.

Date: 
Thursday, May 9, 2013