Organizations in Lawrence Call on City to Pass Resolution on Drones

CONTACT: Ben Jones, 785-766-5227 Patrick Wilbur, 785-727-0506 Email: responsibledroneuse@gmail.com

In response to the increasing use of domestic drones, five local organizations joined the statement below to call on the Lawrence City Commission to address concerns raised by this new technology.

We are organizations actively involved in the community in Lawrence. We have come together to call on the City of Lawrence to put in place safeguards ensuring that civil liberties are protected as domestic drones become more common in the coming years.

Drones already have appeared in the US, and their use domestically is expected to expand dramatically in the coming years. Signed into law in 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act has opened up US skies to drones. The FAA estimates that 30,000 drones could be in use domestically by the year 2020.

The FAA currently is developing safety guidelines to govern the use of drones. These guidelines, though important, do not address privacy concerns. For this reason, it is essential for local and state governments to put in place restrictions now to ensure that drones do not infringe on citizens’ right to privacy and other constitutional rights.

Drones present a unique threat to privacy based on their ability to stay aloft for hours and conduct constant surveillance. Also, armed drones carrying rubber bullets, tear gas, or grenade launchers – features already available on some drones – could intimidate individuals and threaten their right to assemble and freely express themselves.

Now is the time to act and put in place safeguards to protect against potential abuses posed by drones. We support Lawrence adopting a resolution on drones that includes three provisions: (1) a moratorium on the City using drones until guidelines governing their use are developed at the state level; (2) a ban on the City ever using weaponized drones; and (3) a ban on the City using drones to conduct surveillance and gather evidence admissible in court, except in response to an emergency where lives are at risk.

Other municipalities, such as Charlottesville, Virginia, already have begun addressing the concerns posed by drones. We call on the Lawrence City Commission to take similar action. It would be a mistake to delay action until drones are widespread and their use already is violating basic rights.

Douglas County Libertarians

Douglas County Republican Party

Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice

MadreLawrence

Young Americans for Liberty – University of Kansas

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