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Utah lawmakers to consider drone restrictions

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2014 at 9:49 pm •  Published: February 6, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah is joining other states that have waded into the debate over unmanned aerial systems by courting the fast-growing industry while at the same time pushing for more privacy protections to limit local police use of drones.

Utah lawmakers are set to consider two bills this year dealing with drones.

One proposal limits when governments can use the aircraft while another recognizes the benefits of the technology and encourages its development in Utah.

The fine line between courting a potential job-creator and ensuring privacy protections is one several states have been walking in recent years.

In 2013, at least nine states passed laws restricting the use of drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Five of those nine states also submitted bids to serve as drone testing sites for the Federal Aviation Administration, which local officials have said they hope will be a financial boon for their states.

One state, Idaho, also passed a resolution recognizing drone technology is a flourishing industry that would benefit their states.

In Utah, both proposals are still awaiting a first hearing.

The technology is so new that there are no real privacy protections in place yet, Sen. Howard Stephenson told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Stephenson, a Republican from Draper, is sponsoring a bill that limits when government and law enforcement can use drones and the information they collect.

His proposal would require that, with the exception of some emergencies, government agencies using the technology need a warrant or permission from a person considered a target of the aircraft.

The bill also limits what data can be collected and requires any unrelated data that's gathered be destroyed within 24 hours.

Another proposal pending in the Legislature is a resolution expressing support for the development of drone technology and business in Utah.

The resolution, sponsored by Orem Republican Rep. Val Peterson, notes that Utah universities have several programs working with the technology. It also states that Utah is "well positioned" to help the Federal Aviation Administration as it develops regulations.

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