A conference committee report for a proposal that criminalizes the use of drones for surveillance and permits Texans to document the activities of law enforcement personnel was adopted by both the Texas House and Senate late Sunday.
House Bill 912 carries more than 40 exemptions, including one that permits members of the media to use drones to photograph and record breaking news activity. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, more than 30,000 unmanned aircraft are expected to be in use in the U.S. by 2020. It now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.
One exemption will need further clarification, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, before the Senate approved the measure 26-5: as it’s written now, one exemption states that the ban does not apply to residents who live within 25 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Our legislative intent was to have law enforcement be able to use drones,” Estes said, and he added that “we don’t want private citizens to be able to use drones at the border, either.”