Illinois Legislature Sends Drone-Restricting Bill to Governor

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Illinois Legislature Sends Drone-Restricting Bill to Governor

Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill restricting the use of drones in surveillance.

On May 31, the state Senate of Illinois approved amendments to a drone surveillance restriction bill, sending the measure to the desk of Governor Pat Quinn.

SB 1587 — the Freedom From Drone Surveillance Act — was passed overwhelmingly by the House on May 30 by a vote of 105-12. On April 18, state senators gave their approval, voting 52-1 in favor of the measure.

Two amendments tacked on by a House committee were passed unanimously by the state Senate, thus sending the bill in its final form to Governor Quinn.

In contrast to the typical case where bills are gutted by last-minute amendments, the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) reports that the add-ons to the Illinois anti-drone bill sharpened the teeth of the measure. TAC writes:

The first tightened up admissibility provisions. It now provides that if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a law enforcement agency used a drone to gather information in violation of the information gathering limits in of the Act, then the information shall be presumed to be inadmissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding. It does allow that the State may overcome this presumption by proving the applicability of a judicially recognized exception to the exclusionary rule of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article I, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution to the information. It also provides that nothing in the Act shall be deemed to prevent a court from independently reviewing the admissibility of the information for compliance with the aforementioned provisions of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions.

The second amendment deleted a provision that permitted the use of drone by a law enforcement agency if the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent serious damage to property. 

Although not perfect, the Illinois bill makes significant strides toward thwarting the federal government’s quest to make every citizen a suspect and place every thought, word, and deed under the never-blinking eye of the federal overlords.

The act provides five exceptions to the prohibition on the use of drones.

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Photo of Illinois State Senate Chamber at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

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