State legislature passes Biss’ drone regulation bill

Sophia Bollag, City Editor

A bill championed by state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that would broadens existing state regulations on drones passed the state House on Friday.

The bill amends the existing Illinois drone surveillance law — which Biss also sponsored — that went into effect at the start of the year. It now moves to Gov. Pat Quinn for approval.

The original law requires police departments in Illinois to obtain warrants before using drones for surveillance, granting exceptions in cases of emergency. The amendment would broaden the law to also require a warrant for law enforcement to obtain information collected by privately owned drones.

“I’m confident that the law we are now fine-tuning will protect Illinois residents’ civil liberties but also enable the use of some very valuable tools for law enforcement and disaster response,” Biss said in a news release.

The drones the bill aims to restrict would be small, unmanned aircraft police departments could use to take photographs or record audio or video.

The passage of the bill comes about a year after the Evanston City Council passed a two-year moratorium on drone use in the city.

(Evanston council passes moratorium on drones, debates zoning ordinance)

Ald. Jane Grover (7th), who drafted the legislation passed by the council, said the Evanston law would help protect the rights of city residents.

“Many of us are concerned about the lack of regulation for these unmanned aerial systems,” Grover said in support of the Evanston drone ban at a Human Services Committee meeting last year.

(Evanston, ASG likely to pass anti-drone legislation in unprecedented joint resolution)

The bill passed both houses of the state legislature unanimously.

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