Governor Brown Vetoes Drone Bill


On Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Senate Bill 142 which would have prohibited drones from trespassing on private property without the owner’s permission.

She argues her bill would prevent drones from invading Californians’ privacy.

She further argued in her August 27 press release:

SB 142 would not impact the use of drones in public spaces – such as roads, beaches, schools, public easements, and other spaces where drone use is not restricted — nor in the space above 350 feet, where state and federal jurisdiction meet. Commercial drone operators would remain free to access a customer’s private property with permission, and have access to airspace between 350 and 500 feet.

Owners would also be free to use drones on their own property, or on property in which they had been given permission to use drones.

The bill follows numerous public incidents with drones, including incidences of drones impeding firefighting efforts. Often, drones are equipped with video cameras and sound-recording equipment.  As they become more widespread, the potential for colliding with established privacy rights increases.

“This bill establishes clear rules so that we can properly balance privacy and innovation,” said Jackson.

The Governor wrote in his veto statement on Sept. 9:

“This bill would enact trespass liability for anyone flying a drone less than350 feet above real property without the express permission of the property owner, whether or not anyone’s privacy was violated by the flight.

Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination. This bill, however, while well-intended, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.

Before we go down that path, let’s look at this more carefully.”



  1. Smart move on Governor Browns part. This is a new technology, and sure, there will be some items to be ironed out, but this would have been a classic “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. California is a leader in new technology and we should be nurturing and defining this technology, not having some knee-jerk reaction.

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