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Bill would ban drone pics

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A state representative from Kaufman County wants to ban the practice of taking photos of private property using drones.

State Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, has introduced a bill to stop what he calls “indiscriminate surveillance” from unmanned aircraft.

“Why should the government or anyone else be able to watch my every move?”  Gooden said.

The Federal Aviation Administration currently prohibits the use commercial use of images captured by drone aircraft, but the agency is expected to release revised rules governing the use of drones some time next year. Current rules do not apply to non-commercial use of images from drones.

Gooden's House Bill 912 would make it a Class C misdemeanor to use an “unmanned vehicle or aircraft” to capture video or photographs of private property without the consent of the property’s owner or occupant. It would be an additional penalty to possess, display or distribute an image or video captured by an illegally operating drone.

The bill details exceptions for law enforcement if they have a search or arrest warrant and are in immediate pursuit of a suspect. It also does not apply to property within 25 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, where drones are used to enhance border security. 

“It will be a greater burden on the hobbyists, but I think that’s okay,” Gooden said. “If you’re asking me to choose between my right to privacy and a hobbyist’s right to take pictures from the sky, my privacy comes first. … We should have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our home or on our private property,” he said.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.