[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown [official website; JURIST news archive] on Sunday vetoed a bill [text] that would have required law enforcement agencies to acquire a warrant before using drones for surveillance. In his veto message Brown expressed his belief that the measure went too far, stating [Reuters report] that while there are “undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate,” the bill’s exceptions appeared to be too narrow. According to Brown, the bill, which passed easily in California’s Senate and Assembly, could put greater standards on law enforcement in place than those required by both the US and California Constitutions. The bill also would have put limits on drone use by public agencies, requiring them to delete most data collected by the drones within a year. Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, who authored the bill, had stated [Los Angeles Times report] that law enforcement’s increased use of drones threatened the people’s reasonable expectation of privacy, and that this expectation thus needed to be protected.
Drone use [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue both in terms of small domestic drones and larger drones being used abroad by the US military. In March the UN General Assembly called upon nations [JURIST report] to ensure military drones are used in accordance with international law, passing a resolution on the matter. In October UN experts urged the international community to have greater accountability [JURIST report] and transparency when it comes to the use of drones. A week earlier the UN released a report showing that the US had killed more people [JURIST report] using drone strikes than it publicly claimed to have killed. Last September the FBI released a report [JURIST report] detailing its plans for the use of unmanned drones in future missions. This report came one month after the UN stated that if the US is to use drones they must comply [JURIST report] with international law.