Nevada lawmakers continue reviewing drone privacy bill

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers are vetting a bill that would create a regulatory framework for drones and seeks to protect privacy.

Democratic Assemblyman Elliot Anderson is sponsoring AB239 and presented the bill Thursday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The measure would clarify existing law and create new regulations on how police agencies and average citizens can fly unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. The bill prohibits adding weapons to drones and requires operators to obtain permission before flying near an airport or critical facility like a power plant.

The measure also sets 250 feet as the lowest level a drone can fly before trespassing, with some exceptions, and it requires a warrant for certain police observations by a drone on a private home.

Anderson said he's worked with stakeholders for more than a year to compromise on the bill.

"We must ensure we're not only getting it done in terms of economic development, but that we should also be getting it done right," he said.

Several law enforcement and economic development lobbyists testified in favor of the bill and said it would balance privacy concerns without impeding the emerging drone industry.

Steve Hill, head of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, testified in favor of the bill and said it would give laws affecting drones more stability and predictability.

"We think it's important to not punish the technology but to punish the behavior," he said during the hearing. "Cutting-edge technology takes cutting-edge policy."

Drone hobbyist John Abbey testified against the bill and warned that setting limits on the infant drone industry could deter innovation.

"Asking law enforcement agencies how they're going to use drones today is like asking agencies in 1985 how they're going to use cellphones," he said.

The measure passed unanimously out of the Assembly in April. The Senate committee took no action on the bill Thursday.

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