Invasion of privacy provisions considered


Published February 25, 2016

Members of the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill Feb. 25 that would prevent invasions of privacy by certain unmanned aircraft.

LB720, introduced by Heartwell Sen. John Kuehn, would require the express written consent of landowners before images, video or sound could be captured by an unmanned aircraft operating less than 200 feet above a property. The bill would not regulate the mere use of unmanned aircraft.

A person found to be capturing images, video or sound without prior written consent would be liable for damages for invasion of privacy.

Kuehn said 45 states considered similar legislation in 2015.

“The legal ramifications of drones become more significant as the technology is more widely adopted,” he said. “[LB720] strikes an important balance between consumer rights to use the technology as well as maintaining the right of people to be protected from the unintentional, unknown or even malicious use of the technology.”

Adam Houston, a weather researcher, testified in opposition to the bill. He said his team’s severe-storm research could be hampered by the bill.

“Unfortunately it’s not possible for us to request permission ahead of time,” he said, noting that his team cannot always know when a severe storm will occur. “We want to make sure the policy doesn’t overstep the potential use of this technology.”

The bill would not limit the ability of law enforcement or other government agencies from lawfully operating an unmanned aircraft in the airspace directly above private property.

No proponent testimony was provided.


Image of Sen. John Kuehn called LB720 a first step in addressing rapidly changing unmanned aircraft technology.

Sen. John Kuehn called LB720 a first step in addressing rapidly changing unmanned aircraft technology.