Proposal to limit drones taking shape in Pa. Senate

     Maxwell Tubman of Steam Machine Pictures in South Philly holds one of his many copters. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Maxwell Tubman of Steam Machine Pictures in South Philly holds one of his many copters. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    A forthcoming plan in Pennsylvania’s Senate would curb the use of drones by state and municipal  government.

    Several other states have enacted laws limiting the use of drones for surveillance or hunting purposes, and federal rules for civil drones are still in the works. But Pennsylvania has no specific laws governing unmanned aircraft systems.

    Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, said he wants to limit government agencies’ use of drones. He’s worried they could violate individual protections from search and seizure.

    “I’ve heard of some scenarios where they’re flying around certain cities, and they’re watching people,” said Folmer. “It’s kind of like big brother, you know, watching everybody.”

    Folmer calls his measure a two-year moratorium, though it would still allow governments to fly drones if they obtain a warrant. The plan wouldn’t apply to National Guard training, search and rescue missions, and missing children investigations.

    “This is kind of my thing. I’m a big constitutionalist,” said Folmer. “I just want to make sure my freedoms and my liberties are not going to be violated.”

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