Data Practices Legislative Group Continues to Discuss Drones

September 16, 2019

The Subcommittee on Data Practices discussed compromised bill language regarding drones, which are sometimes used by cities for law enforcement and other purposes.

The Legislative Coordinating Commission Subcommittee on Data Practices met for the second time on Sept. 5 to continue its discussion of a proposed drones bill.

Since the 2019 legislative session, stakeholders—including the ACLU and law enforcement—have been working on a compromise. The subcommittee reviewed a version of the bill that reflects their negotiations thus far.

—See a side-by-side comparison of the bill before and after negotiations (pdf)

Contents of the drone bill

The proposed bill generally would require a search warrant before a law enforcement agency used a drone. However, there are currently nine proposed exceptions to this general rule, including emergency situations, heightened risk for safety at a public event, countering terrorist attacks, non-law enforcement purposes, etc.

While much of the proposed bill is about law enforcement use of drones, there is one provision addressing other uses of drones.

The bill does not require a search warrant if drones are used for non-law enforcement purposes. However, if a government entity wanted to use a drone that law enforcement had, it would need to provide a written request to the law enforcement agency, including the reason for using it and the proposed period of use.

Much of the legislative discussion was about what remedies would be available to an aggrieved person under the proposed legislation. Some law enforcement entities were concerned it was too broad.

The subcommittee did not vote on a recommendation of the drone bill. It will continue talking about this proposed legislation at its next meeting, the date of which has not yet been set.

Cloud-based data

The subcommittee also heard from a representative of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, who presented concerns on how government entities are treating cloud-based data. The presentation highlighted the difficulty with getting data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development related to the state’s bid to bring Amazon here. There has been litigation regarding this issue.

—View information presented by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (pdf)

For more background information about this topic, read a previous Cities Bulletin article.