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Robotics Politics Technology

Texas Declares War On Robots 387

Mr_Blank writes "Organizations like the EFF and ACLU have been raising the alarm over increased government surveillance of U.S. citizens. Legislators haven't been quick to respond to concerns of government spying on citizens. But Texas legislators are apparently quite concerned that private citizens operating hobby drones might spot environmental violations by businesses. Representative Lance Gooden has introduced HB912 which proposes: 'A person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image. ('Image' is defined as including any type of recorded telemetry from sensors that measure sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions.)' Can you foresee any unintended consequences if this proposal becomes law?" Another reader notes that New Hampshire has introduced a similar bill: "Neal Kurk, a Republican member of New Hampshire's House of Representatives knows that those drones present a growing privacy concern, and in response has introduced a bill that would ban all aerial photography in the state. That is, unless you're working for the government. The bill, HB 619-FN (PDF), is blessedly short, and I suggest reading the whole thing for yourself." Here's part of the bill: "A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground."
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Texas Declares War On Robots

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  • Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:18AM (#43045107)

    If I take a picture in a hot air balloon of a sunset and happen to capture an empty field that I do not own, am I guilty?

    What about drones require special treatment v.s. existing peeping tom laws? http://legallad.quickanddirtytips.com/peeping-tom.aspx

  • Re:Google Earth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 10101001 10101001 ( 732688 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:42AM (#43045391) Journal

    Not just satellite view per se. Consider that just about every type of weather data gathering device will be blocked as well since most are likely to capture an image of in-property doppler shift of rain drops or a radar map of fog/cloud cover or a temperature map of potentially radiating heat*. Of course, it's entirely absurd that the requirement whether a vehicle is unmanned or not since I'm pretty sure if the whole idea is that the images are a violation in themselves that having a living witness really changes things. But, then, as the summary states, it has more to do with combating those damn hippies and their damn legal evidence gathering to capture crooked companies. Those poor, poor crooked companies.

    *It's interesting, actually, because the point reminds me of police using thermal vision equipment to detect heat lamps as evidence to get a warrant to bust pot growers. That was stricken down as unconstitutional because it used uncommon equipment--a silly argument--and saw things that a personally reasonably thought would be private--a more solid argument, I think. Of course, weather satellites don't seem to do anything close to the sort of detail to detect such things inside public residences. But, then, all the court ruling did was affirm what was or was not admissible evidence. Now, if the legislator had tried to take that angle, I'd probably be more appreciative. The catch-22, at least from their perspective, is how much it'd just as well limit things like, oh, any sort of police airplane/helicopter use to track suspects or gather evidence. And that doesn't even get into all the potentially planned police use of drones to take over the mentioned police airplane/helicopter use of today. Then again, I'd imagine police would just be treated above the law in this case, though oddly not enough to be "damn hippies" themselves and track down said crooked companies so private citizens wouldn't have to bother.

  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:45PM (#43046115)

    Pollution only occurs when it crosses the polluter's property boundary, so I am ok with the law. However, I not ok with the government having an exemption, without having to get a warrant.

    Also, am I the only one who feels the government is continuously shifting the definition of "reasonable expectation of privacy" to the point where it is basically nonexistent?

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:48PM (#43046155)

    Business related:

    I doubt that the could ban satellite imagery, since that happens completely outside of Texas' jurisdiction, and would have a difficult time enforcing the law when the drone is launched out of state, unless the airspace belongs to the state. But it would discourage such companies from operating in the state of Texas, which reflects lost economic opportunities.

    There may be something to be said for preventing corporate espionage, but there is also something to be said for independent monitoring of state and federal laws. That's true even if the "independent" monitor is a competitor, since the only effective way to operate in a regime of relaxed regulation enforcement is the break regulations yourself. An example cited is the enforcement of environmental regulations. Relaxed enforcement in this area would impede the growth of green industries, and leave future generations to pay for the environmental repercussions.

    There would also be reduced innovation in other areas. Drones could be useful for a number of purposes on large properties. The ones I can think of is monitoring crops, search and rescue, as well as security (but there are surely others). Accidental spill-over may result in charges being pressed, thus discouraging the development and use of such technologies within the state.


    This would effectively make some hobby or learning projects illegal. Let's face it, creating an unmanned vehicle that can take photographs is pretty exciting to some people. Cut out that option, and you may be discouraging people from pursuing science and technology related careers since they would not develop or maintain the interest.

  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:55PM (#43046251) Journal

    in Texas it is a crime to report a crime!
    God those people are so f*ed up it is just amazing.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"