SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Jerry Brownvetoed legislation Wednesday that would have restricted the flying of drones lower than 350 feet over private property without the owner’s permission.
While drone technology raises novel issues, Brown said in his veto message the bill “could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation.”
The bill was meant to protect Californians from peeping Toms.
Drones “should not be able to invade the privacy of our backyards and our private property without our permission, ” said the bill’s author, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.
The bill was approved by the California Senate on Aug. 27.
Drone industry groups said the proposed legislation would stifle innovation and kill jobs.
It was also opposed by the National Press Photographers Association.
In a letter to Brown, the organization wrote that “journalists could be sued if a UAS [unmanned aircraft system] they operate were to stray into the ‘airspace overlaying the real property’ of owners while actually gathering newsworthy information of a different nearby location.”
Rules and laws governing drones have become contentious because of reports of sightings near passenger planes and aircraft fighting wildfires in Southern California. Government regulators and industry advocates are trying to strike a balance that protects flying safety without harming the development of an innovative industry.
In 2013, Oregon passed a law prohibiting the flying of drones up to 400 feet over private property without permission.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which focuses on safety over privacy in regulating aircraft, is developing comprehensive rules for small commercial drones that would allow flying up to 500 feet in the air within sight of the pilot during daylight hours. The rules are expected to be completed in mid-2016. Guidelines for hobbyists call for staying below 400 feet.
Contributing: Bart Jansen