NEWARK – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) applauds the passage of a bill that offers some of the strongest protections in the nation against drone surveillance.

This bill requires police to obtain a warrant before using a surveillance drone, except in certain extraordinary situations; requires law enforcement to discard information that is not relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation within 14 days; and prohibits the weaponization of drones in New Jersey.

The bill has been approved in the state Senate and Assembly.

The following statement is from Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey.

The legislation passed today by the State Legislature puts in place in New Jersey some of the strongest civil liberties protections in the nation against abusive drone surveillance. It does so by placing strong restrictions on when and how law enforcement agencies can use this powerful technology. Drone technology is growing by leaps and bounds, yet there are no meaningful rules in place in New Jersey to regulate this technology. We urge Governor Christie to sign this legislation into law immediately and protect New Jerseyans’ privacy rights.

Under the bill passed by the legislature, law enforcement agencies will be required to obtain a warrant before they use a drone and to discard content collected by drones if unrelated to an ongoing criminal investigation. As with other laws that require warrants, there are narrow exceptions for extraordinary situations. This bill is a significant first step in the right direction in regulating police drone use. The ACLU-NJ will continue to monitor the implementation of this bill and will remain vigilant in protecting the civil liberties of all New Jerseyans and ensure that drone technology is not abused by law enforcement.

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