Proposed Law Strictly Limits Use of Drones

shutterstock_237321076Thinking of flying a drone over private property in California? If a new bill passes, you could soon be breaking the law. Senate Bill 142 will prohibit the flight of drones in any airspace over private property, up to 350 feet in the air, without express permission from the property owner. The proposed law has CEOs and startup founders angry.

According to advocates of drones, the bill is a bit hypocritical. Innovation is constantly occurring in the home of Silicon Valley. If the bill passes, the tech industry in the state will be virtually grounded. Both new and old companies may pull up stakes for areas where the use of drones is not so restricted.

According to Matthew Sweeney, CEO of Flirtey, it would be ironic if California was the last place people could receive deliveries via drone. The birthplace of new technology is not a place people expect to see such harsh restrictions. “Unreasonable regulations will stifle innovation,” said Sweeney.

Companies like Google and Amazon are expected to urge the governor to veto the bill. It is feared that the new law would prohibit commercial drone use when its goal is to regulate it. The governor has vetoed such bills in the past. One example of such a veto is a bill that would have required law enforcement personnel to obtain warrants to utilize drones in non-emergency situations.

The problem with many such anti-drone or drone-restricting bills is that their focus is too narrow. In a time when drone use will benefit the public sector as well as the private, putting a tight noose around the use of drones could spell disaster for the industry.

For now, startups and major corporations do not face such restrictions. That may change in the very near future. If laws such as Senate Bill 142 pass, anyone flying a drone over private property could face criminal prosecution. Possible penalties for those convicted have yet to be discussed. For some startups and established businesses, moving operations out of California may be the only option they are left with.

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