Pa. lawmaker proposes greater drone regulation

    State Sen. Mike Folmer would like to pull the reins back on drone use by local governments as well as tightening regulations on private drone operation. (AP photo/Matt Rourke)

    State Sen. Mike Folmer would like to pull the reins back on drone use by local governments as well as tightening regulations on private drone operation. (AP photo/Matt Rourke)

    The advent of the drone era brings with it concerns about air safety and privacy.

    Drones were a hot seller around the holidays last year as the flying gadgets found their way under many trees at Christmas.

    Now there’s talk about expanded drone use by local governmental agencies in Pennsylvania, perhaps even a drone package-delivery system.

    That’s a lot of new air traffic, and state Sen. Mike Folmer of Lebanon County says he’d like to pull the reins back on drone use by local governments

    “I think this past Christmas was … mega-sales on drones for hobbyists and such. I think we need to look at this even deeper,” he said. “We may have folks having drones which then they have these cameras on them and they can be flying over your property taking pictures of your house.”

    While he wants to make sure Fourth Amendment privacy protections are not eroded by drone use, Folmer said he’s also looking at some possible new rules for private drone use based on the explosion of the retail market.

    “Going forward, … how do we handle these things in accordance with our Constitution, specifically our Fourth Amendment rights?” he said. “And that’s what brought my attention.”

    Folmer’s State Government Committee has already held a hearing on government use of drones. He said more hearings are expected.

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