Activists gather downtown to protest proposed California drone bill

Marc Cota-Robles Image
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Activists protest proposed California drone bill
Protesters gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall Monday morning to show their opposition to a proposed bill on the use of drones, Sept. 14, 2014.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Protesters gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall Monday morning to show their opposition to Assembly Bill 1327, also known as the Drone Privacy Protection Act of 2014. The bill is designed to limit the use of drones, but some say it doesn't go far enough.

"This bill, it has no value at all because we reject the drones under all circumstances," said Drone-Free LAPD activist Hamid Khan, speaking at Monday's gathering.

Both the Assembly and state Senate have passed the bill, and it is currently on the governor's desk awaiting his signature.

According to its authors, the bill will include restrictions for government agencies. Law-enforcement would need to get a warrant before conducting aerial surveillance; state and local agencies would need to publicly announce their intent to purchase and use drones; and any data received from drones would be destroyed after a set period of time.

"I personally believe that the presence of drones and the idea of drones and the idea of watchers from the skies will only increase tension on the ground," said Karan Benton, an L.A. Catholic Worker activist. "When there's tension and fear on the ground, people do get violent."

The L.A. Police Commission announced Monday that two drones from the Seattle Police Department have arrived in Los Angeles. Neither drone will fly anytime soon. Both are being stored while the policy surrounding their operation is reviewed.

"And no one can touch them. So the question is now, Will they ever be used?" said Steve Soboroff, president of the L.A. Police Commission.

Soboroff says any serious discussion is still six months away, and public meetings will be held.

"Anything that saves an officer's life or saves somebody in the public's life without hurting other people is as good as it gets," said Soboroff.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been mandated to authorize and integrate drones into our airspace by 2015. According to the author of AB 1327, it's estimated that 20,000 drones will fill our nation's skies in the next decade.