Legislation that would prevent law enforcement from using drones over the skies of Syracuse has been put on hold.
Councilor Jake Barrett pulled the legislation from the agenda of the Syracuse Common Council Wednesday. It would have declared Syracuse a "Warrantless Surveillance Drone Free Zone" in response to concerns that the use of unmanned aircraft could violate constitutional rights.
The bill was placed on hold after councilors became aware of a memorandum of understanding between the Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration. The memorandum established regulations that would balance the needs of law enforcement for surveillance from above, yet protect the civil liberties of people on the ground.
Proponents of the drone free zone feel it should be up to congress to pass regulations. Ann Tiffany of the Syracuse Peace Council told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "I think it's a very good document however it's just a memorandum of understanding... there's nothing that talks about enforcement. There's nothing that talks about the concerns we have about drones."
T he proposal to ban the use of drones over Syracuse comes at a time when this region is in a competition to be designated as an area for the research and development for the civilian use of unmanned aircraft.A group of 40 organizations from the private, public and educational sectors called Nuair forsees the day when thousands of unmanned aircraft will be flying overhead safely and efficiently. Officials predict such an industry could create 70 thousand new jobs in New York and Massachusetts over the next four years with an economic impact of $82 billion by 2025.
Nuair's Deb Warner told Kenyon, "W e're looking for the positive more educated approach to what remotely piloted vehicles can do for our economy and for humanity." But she added, "privacy and surveillance is a strong thing and we understand that."
T he bill to declare Syracuse a surveillance drone free zone is on hold, but is certain to resurface in the coming months.