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The governor of California just shot down the anti-drone bill

The governor of California just shot down the anti-drone bill
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

We recently told you that California's state assembly passed a bill that what would have been one of the toughest anti-drone laws in the country. It just needed Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.

This was an important step toward protecting your privacy, even if you don't live in California. The bill, if passed into law, would have prevented your neighbors from flying drones less than 350 feet above your house, without your permission.

If it became law, it would very likely have been adopted by other states. That's important because federal and state laws regulating drones are murky, at best.

But Gov. Brown vetoed the bill. He didn't sign it into law, and you need to hear his reasoning.

As it turns out, there was a pretty big problem with the bill as written. While it would have prevented civilian and commercial drone pilots from flying drones below 350 feet over your house, the Federal Aviation Administration currently does not permit people to fly drones over 400 feet high. Meaning, if California's anti-drone bill became law, drones could only fly in that narrow 50-foot gap.

In his veto, Gov. Brown wrote, in part: "... while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action."

There is one other thing that the governor may have had in mind when he picked up his veto pen. Money.

The commercial drone industry is young, but growing fast. In fact, it's expected to be a $21 billion industry by 2021, and that's just for smart commercial drones; smart because they fly partly guided by onboard sensors, not just pilots down on the ground. Right now, with so much opportunity, the California anti-drone bill may have shortchanged the state.

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