Rep. Jeff Pyle’s (R-Armstrong/Butler/Indiana) legislation to prevent spying by drones, House Bill 1346 now Act 78 of 2018, was signed into law today by Gov. Tom Wolf. The primary intent of the bill is to protect public privacy by increasing the criminal penalties for using unmanned aircraft, often referred to as drones, to spy on or conduct surveillance of someone in a private place.
“I am pleased to hear that this legislation has finally been signed into law,” said Pyle. “It has always been my goal to protect and preserve private property rights, especially since these rights were in jeopardy as the popularity of drones has increased. I want to thank the governor for his support of this legislation and for making it a reality here in the Commonwealth.”
The legislation makes using an unmanned aircraft to intentionally or knowingly conduct surveillance of another person in a private place or to place another person in reasonable fear of bodily injury a summary offense. Using an unmanned aircraft to deliver, provide, transmit or furnish contraband to a person in a prison or in a mental hospital is now a second-degree felony.
There are exceptions for law enforcement officials, first responders and utility company employees and some government employees for using unmanned aircraft in their official duties.
“Although drones have proven to have some valuable uses, these devices should not be used to invade someone’s privacy, and our state laws hadn’t been updated to reflect this type of technological advancement,” said Pyle. “With my legislation, law enforcement will have the proper tool in order to prosecute someone who willingly uses drones to spy on people. I thank my colleagues for recognizing the importance of having something on the books to better protect people and their property rights.”