Sacco: Use of drone aircraft must be regulated

TRENTON – Sen. Nicholas J. Sacco, D-32, North Bergen, has introduced legislation that would regulate use of drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, for surveillance purposes.

“Recent federal legislation has paved the way for the commercial use of drones here in the United States,” said Sacco in a release.. “While this technology has many useful applications, it is important that we have stringent guidelines in place to ensure the safety and privacy of our residents.”

S2702 would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using a drone unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that information that may be derived from it is relevantl to an ongoing criminal investigation.

“In the future, drone technology will play a key role in law enforcement, assisting agencies in response to suspects of burglaries and murders, missing persons reports, surveillance of fires, and many more,” said Sacco. “It is important that we strike a balance between preventing the abuse of this technology and not hindering its positive uses.”

Among other things, the bill would permit the Missing Persons Unit to utilize a drone for search and rescue missions, including  locating high-risk missing persons or a child. The bill also would allow forest fire services to use drones to survey or monitor a forest fire.

Privacy measures in the bill ensure that information derived from the use of a drone would be strictly safeguarded from the public or any third party, any records unrelated to the ongoing criminal investigation would be required to be discarded within 14 days, and any evidence obtained illegally through these devices would be forbidden from being used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.

Sacco: Use of drone aircraft must be regulated