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Radio News: North Dakota drone law may add weapons

Aug 31, 2015 10:33 pm
Click here to play an audio version of this report. (1:58)

Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica reports that House Bill 1328 just passed in North Dakota requiring that police and sheriff’s deputies get a warrant when deploying a drone for surveillance. But to get that civil liberty enacted into law, there was a trade-off. While the bill previously banned police use of any weapons by drone, now "non-lethal" weaponized drones would be allowed in the state. Tear gas from above, or a barrage of bean bags, pellets, or a Taser may be used with a radio-controlled drone now in North Dakota. "I submitted [it] with [a] prohibition of any weapons," Rep. Rick Becker said about his bill. "The law enforcement lobby offered an amendment and said that if the amendments were added, they would not oppose. The committee accepted amendments and I didn't fight them because I wanted the bill to pass at least to require warrants. The law says that law enforcement can't use drones weaponized with lethal weapons. But in 2017 when I get back, I will introduce a bill to also include non-lethal." Kelsey D. Atherton in Popular Science reports that actually, drone use in North Dakota is governed by an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Compliance Committee. The group oversees all drone use by both the University of North Dakota, and the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department, and the Sheriff's Department does so under the umbrella of the University of North Dakota’s drone exemption.