A new year and the start of new state legislative sessions brings a new crop of absurdly broad and unconstitutional proposals to ban FPV / personal drones.

First up this year, Washington state: http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2...Bills/2178.htm


AN ACT Relating to unmanned aircraft; adding a new chapter to Title 14 RCW; prescribing penalties; and declaring an emergency.BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 The legislature finds that technological developments in unmanned aircraft have expanded the vehicles' capacity to be widely deployed in our state and in our communities. The legislature further finds that the recreational use of certain small unmanned aircraft is exempt from federal regulation under the federal aviation administration modernization and reform act of 2012. The potential for these small unmanned aircraft to be operated in close proximity to human dwellings and activities presents opportunities for widespread recreational use and enjoyment. At the same time, the recreational use of unmanned aircraft increases the likelihood of physical trespass onto private property and invasions of personal privacy. The legislature intends to prohibit the unauthorized use of unmanned aircraft in the airspace above private property.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 2 The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Person" includes any individual, corporation, partnership, association, cooperative, limited liability company, trust, joint venture, or any other legal or commercial entity and any successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality thereof.
(2) "Personal information" means any information that: (a) Describes, locates, or indexes anything about an individual including, but not limited to, his or her social security number, driver's license number, agency-issued identification number, student identification number, real or personal property holdings derived from tax returns, and his or her education, financial transactions, medical history, ancestry, religion, political ideology, or criminal or employment record; or (b) affords a basis for inferring personal characteristics, such as finger and voice prints, photographs, or things done by or to such individual, and the record of his or her presence, registration, or membership in an organization or activity, or admission to an institution.
(3)(a) "Sensing device" means a device capable of acquiring personal information from its surroundings through any means including, but not limited to, cameras, thermal detectors, microphones, chemical detectors, radiation gauges, and wireless receivers in any frequency.
(b) "Sensing device" does not include equipment whose sole function is to provide information directly necessary for safe air navigation or piloting of an unmanned aircraft.

(4) "Unmanned aircraft" means an aircraft that is operated without physical human presence on board the aircraft and operated either:
(a) Pursuant to the exemption for recreational uses established in the special rule for model aircraft of the federal aviation administration modernization and reform act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 Sec. 336, "special rule for model aircraft"); or
(b) Without an experimental airworthiness certificate or other authorization by the federal aviation administration.

(5) "Washington state airspace" means all airspace within the territorial limits of this state that is within class G airspace, outside of five statute miles from any airport, heliport, seaplane base, spaceport, or other location with aviation activities, and not otherwise classified as controlled by the federal aviation administration.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 (1) Except as provided in section 4 of this act, no person may operate in Washington state airspace an unmanned aircraft that is equipped with a sensing device.
(2) A violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 The prohibition under section 3 of this act does not apply to the operation of an unmanned aircraft that is equipped with a sensing device if the following conditions are met:
(1) The unmanned aircraft is clearly and conspicuously labeled with the name and contact information of the aircraft's owner and operator; and
(2) The unmanned aircraft is flown in Washington state airspace above private property, and the landowner and any tenants who have a right to occupy the property have consented to the operation after having received actual notice that the aircraft is equipped with a sensing device; or
(3) The unmanned aircraft is flown in the airspace above public lands in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with the rights of others and the operation is not otherwise prohibited by law or rule.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 Any person operating an unmanned aircraft in the airspace of this state is liable for all damages that state or local government property may sustain as a result of illegal or negligent operation of the unmanned aircraft. When the operator is not the owner of the unmanned aircraft but is operating or moving it with the express or implied permission of the owner, the owner and the operator are jointly and severally liable for any damage. Damage to any state or local government property may be recovered in a civil action instituted in the name of the state of Washington by the department of transportation or other affected government agency. Any measure of damage determined by the state or local government to its property under this section is prima facie the amount of damage caused thereby and is presumed to be the amount recoverable in any civil action therefor. The damages available under this section include the incident response costs, including traffic control, incurred by the department of transportation or other state or local agency.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 Nothing in this chapter may be construed to limit a party's ability to bring an action, including an action for damages, based on rights conferred by other state or federal law.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 7 Sections 1 through 6 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 14 RCW.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 8 This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately.

As you can see this bill is expressly targeted at hobbyists, while leaving commercial users with FAA authorization completely alone. It bans any RC aircraft from carrying any "sensing device" that is not essential for operation of the aircraft (whatever that means), except over private property where everyone with a property interest below has consented, or over public property.

The bill is authored by:
Rep. Jeff Morris

Olympia Office:
436A Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7970

The bill's current status is listed here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summ...2178&year=2013

At this time, it has just been pre-filed for introduction, and is not yet assigned to a committee. Once introduced, however, it could very well be assigned to the Technology and Economic Development Committee, of which Morris is the chair, making it much more likely to pass out of committee. Morris is also on the transportation committee, which it could also be assigned to.

I hope Washington FPVers and drone enthusiasts can get on top of this. Start writing and meeting with your state representatives NOW! This bill has the same problems as similar ones last year, namely it is likely preempted by federal law since the FAA (probably) has exclusive jurisdiction over all US airspace, and even if not preempted it likely violates the First Amendment by instituting a blanket ban on amateur aerial photography using unmanned aircraft, while leaving manned aircraft and commercial unmanned aircraft unaffected. The sooner your legislators understand this, the better.

As soon as the bill is assigned to a committee, every personal drone enthusiast in Washington should try to set up meetings with each committee member to explain your concerns with this bill, and make sure to sign up to testify at any committee hearings on it. If it all possible, it is best to kill this sort of thing in committee before it even makes it to the House floor.

The DIY drone community will need to monitor this one closely....

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  • Thanks Ryan.  I was quite nervous.  I was suprised by two things.  First, three minutes is an unreasonably short period of time when giving testimony on a topic that has so many aspects to consider.  Second, I was suprised how open the Committee members seemed to be about accepting suggestions to improve the bill. 

  • BacklashRC, you rocked it at the hearing. Thank you for being a well-spoken and well-read voice for the community.

  • I have created a letter that anyone who is interested can send to the committee members concerning modifying the language in House Bill 2178. The new language would strengthen the protection of privacy while creating a less restrictive environment for UAV operators.

    I urge anyone with a skin in the game, who is a Washington resident, to send a signed copy of the letter to each committee member. Emails have very little effect on legislators. Hard Copies are the way to go.

    Keep in mind that the committee members need the letters in time to consider the content. They meet again to discuss the bill at 1:30 PM on January 24th. That is this coming Friday. If you have to choose, the most important member on the list is also the first member on the list. (Rep. Jeff Morris)

    Here are links to the letter, and addresses on my SkyDrive. Let me know if the link will not work for you or if you would like the information in a different format. Please note that you will not be able to edit the name and address fields until you save the document to your hard drive and enable editing.

    Letter to the Committee on Technology and Economic Development

    Addresses for Committee Members

    If you have any questions about the process just let me know. I will include the body of the letter and the addresses below since copy and paste may be easier for some of you.


    [Your Name]
    [Your Address]
    [Your City, State, Zip]
    [Your Email]
    [Your Phone]

    Chairman Morris, TED Committee Members,

    I am a Washington state resident writing with the hopes that the committee will take my suggestions to strengthen House Bill 2178. I believe that the current language in the bill leaves it open to legal challenges, threatening the protection of the privacy that it hopes to maintain. I also believe that the bill places an undue burden on the owners and operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s).

    I would urge the Committee to consider changing the language in Sec. 4. (2) of HB 2178 so that it resembles the following paragraph:

    NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. (2) The unmanned aircraft pilot shall not employ the use of imaging technology for aerial surveillance with a radio control model aircraft having the capability of obtaining high-resolution photographs and/or video, or using any types of sensors, for the collection, retention, or dissemination of surveillance data information on individuals, homes, businesses, or property at locations where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy unless written expressed permission is obtained from the individual property owners or managers. 

    The language specified above is an adaptation of the privacy clause in section 6 of Document #550(1), released by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in August of 2013. It should be noted that on January 11th, 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing a working relationship with the intent of continuing the safe operation of model aircraft and UAV’s in the National Airspace.

    If the aforementioned change replaced HB 2178 Sec. 4. (2), prohibiting every UAV operator from flying over private property without permission, the prescribed penalty (Gross Misdemeanor) could be maintained in good conscience without the risk of jailing benign hobbyists. Liability assignment would remain intact, and owner/operator information would still be required to be on the UAV.

    The proposed change to the verbiage of HB 2178 simultaneously protects private property owners as well as the privacy of individuals who have taken reasonable measures to seek privacy on public land. The language mitigates the possibility of a court challenge. It also avoids logistical errors and exploitable loopholes inherent in attempting to place technical limits on specific aspects of UAV behavior. The courts maintain flexibility in their ability to address legitimate invasions of privacy, and finally, the verbiage preserves freedom of expression for the UAV operator.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. 

    Sincerely, ______________________________

    (1) (http://www.modelaircraft.org/files/550.pdf)

    Washington State Legislature
    Committee on Technology and Economic Development

    Rep. Jeff Morris
    Olympia Office:
    436A Legislative Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7970

    Rep. Cyrus Habib
    Olympia Office:
    132D Legislative Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7848

    Rep. Norma Smith
    Olympia Office:
    435 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7884

    Rep. Shelly Short
    PO Box 184
    Republic, WA 99166
    (509) 775-8047

    Rep. Cathy Dahlquist
    Olympia Office:
    426 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7846

    Rep. Richard DeBolt
    Olympia Office:
    425 Legislative Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7896

    Rep. Jake Fey
    Olympia Office:
    330 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7974

    Rep. Roger Freeman
    Olympia Office:
    331 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7830

    Rep. Zack Hudgins
    Olympia Office:
    438A Legislative Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7956

    Rep. Linda Kochmar
    Olympia Office:
    122F Legislative Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7898

    Rep. Chad Magendanz
    Olympia Office:
    427 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7876

    Rep. Dawn Morrell
    Olympia Office:
    306 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7948

    Rep. Cindy Ryu
    Olympia Office:
    324 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7880
    Rep. Monica Stonier
    Olympia Office:
    309 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7994

    Rep. Gael Tarleton
    Olympia Office:
    334 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7860

    Rep. Brandon Vick
    Olympia Office:
    469 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7850

    Rep. Maureen Walsh
    Olympia Office:
    411 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7836

    Rep. Sharon Wylie
    Olympia Office:
    417 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7924

    Rep. Hans Zeiger
    Olympia Office:
    468 John L. O'Brien Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504-0600
    (360) 786-7968

    Letter to Committee For Forum Members.docx
    Microsoft Word Document
  • After watching the state committee debate I see the impracticality of the bill. It appears the privacy issue is out weighing the benefits the technology will bring. It would also appear it outlaws satellite imaging as these are also unmanned. I would expect a federal law would conflict with this aspect.

    It is important that a bill (or bills world wide,) are approved for the use of UAVs as otherwise the rules will end up in Common Law, if its not decided by sensible agreement of informed and interested individuals.

    It also seems obvious that those who spy, pry or stalk already do so by all sorts of means. Banning UAVs over private property wouldn't change much.

    Thanks Dan and Backlash for the link.

  • If I have my info correct, the bill is scheduled for an executive session on Jan 24, 2014. I wrote to my elected officials asking them to stop this bill as it's written. I 'kind' of believe something should be in place but certainly not this bill. I concur with Jared's comments.

    The video testimony for backlashrc starts here at 46 minutes..

    I couldn't get the vid to advance from his link.


  • ii like this alot, but with hindsight i wish you guys would have answered some of their questions, eg

    they asked with the building of these multi rotors, when the hardware is produced, do the same people also make the software, they went on to give an example of an app for an iphone being 3rd , the guy who answered basically didn't answer the question, I think their concern was if the software is 3rd party could some scrupulous person put a hack or bug in the software that allows them to take control or something to that effect.

    I would have pointed out the way the code is made, it is regulated and checked by the creator company of the hardware but also that the majority of technology has been designed in a way that hacking the flight computer can be very difficult due to it having no direct wireless connectivity. (excluding the MAVLINK)

    I would have also pointed out that smart phone apps are "toys or basic tools" more than anything they are not a viable way of controlling a device and not anyone can simply download an app and control someones very expensive multi rotor.

    I think when they asked on advice about laws to give guard rails, building on what you guys said about the law they were going to introduce being very blunt or broad and have the current privacy laws cover everything, i would have said, when introducing a law to protect the people, it should not be so specific about a technology as there are many evolving technologies.

    It should cover intent to "spy" or "surveill" not general intent to film and that the law should be on a case by case not a squish it whilst its small.

    But overall, i think you did a good job, they commercial guy i find was to focused on commercial and didn't care about private use much at all.


  • I provided testimony today at a hearing with the House Committee on Technology and Economic Development.  You can view video of the event in the link that follows.  My testimony begins at about the 47 minute mark if you want to skip the preliminaries.  This may not open correctly on a phone.  You may need to use a computer.
  • The headline of this thread is totally misleading, there is no "ban" involved, only a prohibition about flying sensor-equipped hobby-craft over private property without permission.

  • This bill sounds more than reasonable to me. It is important to take responsibility for your actions. Anonymous operators of any remote craft is unreasonable. Military included!

  • House Bill 2178 is being presented at the House Committee on Technology and Economic Development on thursday morning at 8 AM.

    I hope to be there to testify in opposition to the bill in its current form.

    I would appreciate it if those of you on this forum would contribute relevant points, with references if possible, which you would like heard at the hearing.  I will do my best to represent the will of the contributers on this thread.

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