Press Releases

Beyer- DelBene Bill Protects Americans from Aerial Surveillance

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Washington, November 5, 2015 | Thomas Scanlon (202 225 4376) | comments
Congressman Don Beyer joined Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today to introduce the Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act, which would require the federal government to obtain a warrant to conduct aerial surveillance in the United States. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Ted Poe (TX-02) are original cosponsors of the bipartisan bill.
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Congressman Don Beyer joined Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today to introduce the Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act, which would require the federal government to obtain a warrant to conduct aerial surveillance in the United States. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Ted Poe (TX-02) are original cosponsors of the bipartisan bill.

“Our law enforcement agencies need modern tools to combat crime and terrorism in the face of emerging technologies, but we must take every precaution to preserve civil liberties and privacy rights,” said Rep. Beyer. “I am proud to join Rep. DelBene’s common-sense legislation to protect our constituents from privacy incursions.”

“Just because technological advances have made it easier for the federal government to collect information doesn’t mean that our privacy rights can or should be violated on the ground or in the air,” Rep. DelBene said. “Congress has an obligation to clear the legal fog by passing my bill to require the federal government to obtain a warrant if it wants to conduct aerial surveillance.”

The Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act would prohibit the government from identifying law-abiding Americans who show up incidentally in surveillance, and it would prohibit unlawfully collected information from being used in court. The bill also includes common-sense exceptions for terrorist threats, border security, surveying public lands and scanning disaster relief areas.

“The recently reported expanded use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil raises serious Constitutional and civil liberties issues that Congress needs to address,” Rep. Lofgren said. “This legislation includes important guidelines to protect Americans’ privacy in a time of increasing surveillance technologies.”

“Unmanned Aerial Systems are revolutionizing entire sectors of the economy – saving time, money, and even human lives. As this technology proliferates, however, so too must our privacy protections,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “This bill ensures that Americans can be confident in the fact that there are clear protections from illegal surveillance by UAS carried out by either the government or the private sector.”

Earlier this year, news reports revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducts aerial surveillance missions over many U.S. cities. The reports suggested that some of the aircraft were equipped with devices, such as StingRays and high resolution cameras, which can capture massive amounts of data including images, emails, texts, calls and geolocation.

The House bill is a companion measure to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Dean Heller’s (R-NV) legislation.

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