Georgia House of Representatives Proposes Bill to Regulate Drone Use

Legislation Privacy

House Bill 5 – A bill to be entitled an Act to amend Article 3 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the O.C.G.A.

During the Georgia General Assembly 2015-2016 Regular Session, Representatives Geisinger, Kidd, McCall, Rice, and Bentley have proposed a bill to be entitled an act to amend Article 3 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.),which regulates invasions of privacy, including wiretapping, eavesdropping, and surveillance. On February 12, 2015, the bill entered the House’s second reading. This house bill is an amendment to provide a definition of invasions of privacy and clarify its current law on drones.

The bill defines the term “image” and clarifies the situations under which it would be lawful to capture an image using an unmanned aircraft (16-11-95.1), and the situations under which it prohibits the capturing of certain images by unmanned aircraft (16-11-95.2). For those who are found guilty for violating 16-11-95.3(a)(1), their violation will result in either a misdemeanor or a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The amendment then provides for defenses to prosecution. The amendment restricts the use of such images in legal proceedings (16-11-95.4), and provides for civil actions against those who commit violations under the proposed bill (16-11-95.5). Furthermore, the amendment provides for rulemaking authority for the Department of Public Safety for law enforcement use of such unmanned aircraft.

A summary of the bill and its current version can be found here, and this article includes reactions in Georgia to the proposed bill. A summary of current state laws on drone regulation can be found here.

This proposed bill clarifies Georgia’s regulation on drones, especially the circumstances under which a drone operator could violate the law. It also lays out the penalties for violating the law. The proposed bill includes a number of exceptions to the regulations, reserved primarily for government agencies, among others. As more states are adopting legislation relating to drones, Georgia state legislatures are responding to the increased prevalence of drones and how to regulate them, taking into consideration the benefits drones provide in light of the potential privacy and economic issues they bring as well.