Drones would be banned from flying over critical infrastructure sites, such as chemical plants, refineries and water treatment facilities, under a bill approved Tuesday by a Senate panel.
The bill sponsored by state Sen. Bodi White would make it a crime to use unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record a specifically targeted critical infrastructure without the owner’s consent.
“It will be very valuable technology in the future,” said White, R-Central. “We all recognize there’s a downside.”
For instance, White said a package flown in and dropped by a drone could explode at a plant or drop harmful contaminants into a water supply. He said drones could be used for terrorism activity and key infrastructures are prime targets.
“There’s very little, if any, regulation right now,” he said. “There’s going to have to be some regulation for privacy and critical infrastructure.”
The state’s chemical industry backed Senate Bill 356, which cleared the Senate Committee on Judiciary C without opposition.
The committee at White’s urging inserted a provision under which government homeland security and emergency preparedness entities could use the drones so they can assess situations that may arise involving critical infrastructure sites.
T he new laws ranged from limits on use by law enforcement, preventing interference with hunters and fishermen, moratoriums on use by state and local personnel, and spelling out what constitutes lawful uses.