NH drone regulations

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Limits on drones over private property?

Mar 18, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Drones are a relatively new technology, and therefore raise a multitude of issues for legislators. HB 97, sponsored by Republican Rep. Neal Kurk and Rep. Renny Cushing, a Democrat, attempts to address some of those issues by instituting a series of rules governing the use of drones by both government agencies—such as law enforcement groups—and non-government entities such as commercial enterprises, nonprofits, or private citizens.

In a general sense, the bill would prohibit the use of drones for surveillance purposes without express permission from the person being monitored and property owners.

Police would be able to circumvent this requirement by getting a warrant.

For non-government drone users, the bill would ban flying over private property at a height lower than 250 feet without permission, and establishes penalties for using a drone for surveillance purposes or to photograph or record individuals who have a reasonable expectation of privacy—i.e. they would not normally be visible from public places on the ground, or are inside a structure.

The bill has passed the House and is currently being considered by a Senate committee. A similar measure, HB 602, died in conference committee last year.

According to NHPR, there are over 2,500 registered drones in New Hampshire, a number that has been rising consistently.

Supporters of the bill argued the restrictions were necessary to protect privacy.

"With the changes in technology, you have to rethink what trespassing is. You don't have to enter onto someone's property to have a drone the size of a bumble bee fly into a window,” Rep. Cushing said.

However, some drone enthusiasts expressed concerns that the restrictions went too far, setting stricter requirements for taking images with drones than currently apply to photography from planes or helicopters.

"The bottom line is people have the right to take pictures. That's an incredibly important First Amendment right." said Devon Chaffee, executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire.

Do you think drones should be prohibited from flying or taking pictures over private property without permission? Leave a comment below to join the discussion, and we'll present your thoughts to legislators considering this issue. Only comments from NH residents will be counted, so please indicate if you are from NH in your response.

Comments

Paul Chalue
- Dover

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 7:40am

Drones should be controlled with common sense. A person using a drone to take photographs should have no more restrictions than a photographer in a helicopter. A photographer standing at the top of a high building can take a photo showing the scene from his vantage point. To restrict the photographers ability to use a drone to photograph scenes from a new vantage point is wrong.

Ann Towle
- Northfield

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 8:16pm

I am a NH resident. Of course drones should not be allowed over private property without permission. Without permission they are trespassing just as much as if they were walking on the property. Even worse they could be flying up to bedroom and bathroom windows and taking pictures, does everyone need to keep their shades closed at all times and live in a cave just to ensure their privacy? Many people in rural areas pay a great deal to have beautiful views and privacy in the state of New Hampshire, it's why they choose to live here or have a vacation home here.

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