Assemblymen Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) and Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) are the politicians who wrote a bill to give tax exemptions to drone makers. They have both received campaign contributions from major drone manufacturers. And they are also the proposers of California’s drone privacy bill.
Gorell and California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom are hosting a conference with drone companies and the politicians who want to give them tax breaks: Civilian Applications of UAVs – A California Perspective, a Policy Symposium. Gorell has done speaking engagements for the drone lobby, AUVSI. Gorell even supports the military drone base in Malibu. That makes sense, as Gorell recently returned from a war tour as a Navy intelligence officer stationed in Afghanistan.
But does it make sense to trust Gorell to ensure Californians’ privacy when it comes to drones?
Something fishy is going on with the drone privacy bills that are presently proposed in 31 states. Take a look at Arizona.
Representative Tom Forese (R) is lobbying for the FAA to test drones in Arizona, “with its climate and desert terrain similar to the Middle East.” And, yes, Forese also introduced the Arizona drone privacy bill.
Now the AZ drone proponent’s privacy bill is being gutted (emphasis mine):
A bill that would have required law enforcement agencies in Arizona to get search warrants before using unmanned aircraft to gather evidence was stripped Thursday of its key provisions and turned into a measure to create a study committee on drone use.
The decision by Republican sponsor Rep. Tom Forese of Chandler to amend the bill came after law enforcement voiced opposition to the legislation at a committee hearing last month.
Forese said he’s also heard from economic development interests who told him they were worried about the bill’s impact to the growth of the technology in Arizona.
That’s right. Law enforcement and economic development interests teamed up to get rid of an already weak warrant requirement. And they turned the privacy measure into a study committee. That’s the “balanced approach.”
The Maine drone privacy bill may also go to a study group, “a legislative tactic to kill a bill.”
Keep your eyes open for this to happen again and again: Drone “privacy” advocates who are also pals with the drone lobby, law enforcement pushback against even the slightest privacy protections, and protecting industry interests for a “balanced approach.”