Daines Works to Protect Montanans’ Civil Liberties and Right to Privacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines today worked to protect Montanans’ privacy from commercial and non-commercial use of drones and other remotely piloted aircraft.  

During today’s Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Daines pressed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address Montanans’ significant privacy concerns over this emerging technology.

“I come from the state of Montana that places a great value in privacy – in fact, you might argue that we have different privacy expectations than people in large urban areas, and that’s why people like to live in places like Montana,” Daines stated. “I do have concerns about the privacy aspects associated with remotely piloted aircraft, many of which are not being used commercially and are therefore not subjected to the proposed rulemaking.”

Daines pressed the FAA on what their view is of an appropriate role for local regulation of non-commercial hobbyists’ use of drones and highlighted his concerns with the massive amount of data that is able to be collected from unmanned systems. 

“The fact that a contractor can fly an unmanned system and potentially be able to sell or share that data with outside parties, including the federal government, frankly is chilling,” Daines stated. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration failed to provide Daines with information as to how they plan to address ownership of such data collection.  

Daines has long worked to protect Montanans’ civil liberties and Fourth Amendment rights. Daines was vocal critic of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk meta-data collection and was a supporter of the original USA Freedom Act that would have ended the NSA’s abuses and overreach. In the House, Daines also cosponsored H.R. 1852, the Email Privacy Act, which requires a search warrant from a judge based on probable cause to obtain private emails.

Video of Daines’ remarks from today’s hearing are available here.