The good news is rarer than ever these days. With Washington D.C. scumbags selling out our rights and the losers in Lansing following suit, it can be very depressing to follow politics. However, not every one of our Michigan state legislators have sold us out, and one is working on solid legislation to protect the 4th Amendment from technological marvels that could destroy our privacy rights forever: Drones.
Rep. Jim Runestad introduced House Bill 5026 (HB5026) last month along with nine co-sponsors. The bill would prohibit police from gathering information with a drone without a warrant with only a few exceptions.
The language of the proposed bill stipulates that “a law enforcement agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state shall not disclose or receive information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle,” without either a warrant, written consent of the person under surveillance or under a court order issued by a judge on the basis of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under certain specific parameters.
The proposed law would also allow collection of information by a drone if it “is used in circumstances in which it is reasonable to believe that there is an imminent threat to the life or safety of a person, for the purpose of assisting the person,” under several conditions.
HB 5026 includes a complete ban on the use of drones armed with lethal or non-lethal weapons. Any information collected in violation of the law would be inadmissible in court. The legislation also includes specific criteria judges must follow when issuing a warrant, and criminal penalties for violations of the law.
This legislation is important because drones can be used by government officials to monitor and even murder their political opposition. A recent expose from The Intercept has detailed the extent of the depravity and wickedness that fuels the drone program overseas. It is very possible that the feds want to export that type of death and destruction to the homeland by instituting this technology here. The feds estimate that there will be up to 30,000 drones in the sky by 2020, if they can get their way. But states refusing to participate in federal programs can really throw a wrench into their sinister schemes.
The federal government encourages and funds a network of drones at the state and local level across the U.S., thereby gaining access to a massive data pool on Americans without having to expend the resources to collect the information itself. By placing restrictions on drone use, state and local governments limit the data available that the feds can access.
In a nutshell, without state and local cooperation, the feds have a much more difficult time gathering information. This represents a major blow to the surveillance state and a win for privacy. That’s exactly what Rep. Runestad’s bill would accomplish.
This isn’t the only measure that Rep. Runestad has introduced to protect privacy rights during his first term as a State House Representative. He also introduced House Joint Resolution N (HJRN), a measure that would allow voters to add protections for their electronic data and communications into the state constitution. It passed an important House Committee hearing earlier this year.
You can find out more about the actions you can take to push HJRN forward at this link. It is incumbent upon us to support Rep. Runestad and his bills. He has almost single-handedly kept the important issue of privacy alive, and has the rare courage to resist the pressure and do the right thing in Lansing. Few have it in them to fend off the special interest power-brokers who dominate Lansing politics, but Rep. Runestad clearly does. We must stand with him and support his legislation. Here are the steps you can take to support HB 5026:
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
HB5026 is in the House Governmental Operations Committee. It will need to be heard and pass through that committee before it can receive a full vote in the state House. Take the following action steps to support this important bill:
1) Call the following members of the House Governmental Operations Committee. Please call them as a call is far more effective than an e-mail.
Bradford Jacobsen (R) Committee Chair 517-373-1798
Michael Webber (R) Majority Vice-Chair 517-373-1773
Andrea LaFontaine (R) 517-373-8931
Tim Greimel (D) 517-373-0475
Sam Singh (D) 517-373-1786
2. Call Back – any NO or UNDECIDED – in 3-4 days. Make sure to follow-up. If they say YES, be sure to thank them and, if possible, announce their committed YES vote to email and social media contacts. If they say no, politely ask them why. Let them know you will be alerting your community about their dereliction of their duty if they refuse to support this important bill!
3. Spread the Word. Share this information widely by facebook, twitter, email and other social networks.
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