The governor acted recently on the two bills involving use of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs or “drones”) sitting on his desk, AB 1327 (Gorell) and AB 2306 (Chau). Both were discussed in some depth previously in this space. One bill was signed and the other vetoed.
These two bills had reached Gov. Brown with overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature, though the more significant and far reaching of the two, Mr. Gorell’s AB 1327, had garnered opposition from the media and some law enforcement agencies. Specifically, it put limits on law enforcements’ use of drones absent a search warrant. That was the bill the governor vetoed.
In his message explaining his unwillingness to sign AB 1327, the governor said that the provisions of the bill go “beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment [to the United States Constitution] or the privacy provisions of the California Constitution.” Apparently, he does not want to add privacy protections to California law, at least in the drone context, beyond the already existing constitutional minimums.
The other bill, Mr. Chau’s AB 2306 which the governor did sign, will take effect January 1, 2015. As discussed before, it creates an actionable invasion of privacy to use a drone to obtain an image or sound recording of a person engaged in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The bill also makes several other changes to California privacy law and provides that the violation of this drone law can result in the imposition of actual, treble, and punitive damages.
Mr. Wagner is Of Counsel to Buchalter Nemer and a member of the California Legislature representing the Central Orange County’s 68th Assembly District.