Phoenix considers drone ordinance

Posted at 7:19 PM, Sep 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 22:19:20-04

A new ordinance that was considered Wednesday in Phoenix may make it illegal to operate a drone in certain situations.

Written by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski, the ordinance would make it a misdemeanor to record someone while they are on private property without their permission.

A class 1 misdemeanor a violation could result in up to a month in jail or a $2,500 fine. 

DiCiccio and Nowakowski were primarily concerned with protecting individual privacy as well as protecting citizen’s privacy from the government. They brought together representatives from the Goldwater Institute as well as the ACLU to provide their input in helping to shape the ordinance. 

“You have a right to privacy in your own home,” said Jim Manley, Senior Attorney with the Goldwater Institute, who testified in front of the City Council today. “What this ordinance does is it strengthens your right to privacy by adding these additional protections.

At the same time, DiCiccio told ABC15 he also wanted to encourage the growth of the drone industry and its technology.

Drones are used in everything from commercial photographer and real estate to search and rescue and law enforcement. And, proponents of the devices say their possibilities in the future are endless.

The ordinance also contains several exceptions for drone use, including use by police, news media, and fire department officials in certain situations.

City officials, stakeholders and law enforcement representatives from the Phoenix Police Department discussed several issues about law enforcement’s use of drones Wednesday, including concerns about law enforcement using drones to monitor protests and rallies.

“You should be able to say what you want without knowing that your government’s going to be spying on you,” DiCiccio said.

City officials decided not to vote on the ordinance Wednesday, in order to make its language clearer and address some outstanding issues.

DiCiccio said he will work more with the Goldwater Institute and the ACLU to make it clearer for law enforcement officers to enforce.

Earlier this year an American Airlines pilot reported coming within 100 feet of drone while they were trying to land.