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Drone regulation introduced in Georgia General Assembly

On Monday, the Georgia House of Representatives will review two bills, H.B. 846 and H.B. 848, regulating the use of drones to protect privacy and limit drone use for surveillance purposes.

Unmanned aircraft systems Black Hornet (foreground) and the much larger Watchkeeper are displayed at RAF Waddington on January 15, 2014 in Waddington, England.
Unmanned aircraft systems Black Hornet (foreground) and the much larger Watchkeeper are displayed at RAF Waddington on January 15, 2014 in Waddington, England.Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) introduced the H.B. 846, which establishes when it is legal and illegal to use a drone and under what circumstance it is legal for a drone to capture an image.

The legislation would establish a "rulemaking authority" within the Department of Public Safety to deal with the use of drones.

In addition, the law enforcement agencies would have to report every two years to the state details of any instances when a drone was used, including costs and outcomes.

Some of the circumstances when a drone could be used would include a chase of a criminal suspect, investigation of a fatal traffic accident, or search for a missing person.

Rep. Stephen Allison (R-Blairsville) sponsored the H.B. 848, a bill that prohibits any "aircraft" from flying less than 100 feet above a private property "for the purpose of searching or engaging in surveillance without a search warrant or permission of the property owner."

Any images captured below the 100 feet area above the property, as well as any other surveillance information, would be inadmissible in courts.

"All it is, is to make sure they are not abusing the authority they have been given," Geisinger told the Associated Press about the bills. "Without this legislation there would be no reporting and no oversight."

For now, drones have been mostly used by the military. There have been no public reports of Georgia police ever using an "unmanned aircraft."