Air Force General Counsel Blog The chief legal officer and chief ethics official of the Department of the Air Force


Drone-Free Zones?

In a move reminiscent of the Nuclear Free Zone ordinances passed by cities during the Cold War, the City of Berkeley is considering a "Drone Free Zone"--a ban on Remotely Piloted Aircraft ("drones"):

"On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council considered a resolution drafted by the city's Peace and Justice Commission that would create an ordinance to ban the use of drones in Berkeley airspace and bar the police department and any other municipal agency from deploying drones. An exemption would be made for hobbyists as long as their drones are flown in non-urban areas and don't carry cameras. Violators could be fined $10,000 and sentenced to a year in prison.

The resolution was prompted by the Alameda County sheriff's plans to acquire a surveillance drone, a controversial move in an area with a history of radical activism and police surveillance, from the Berkeley antiwar protests of the 1960s to the Occupy movement uprising in Oakland last year.

"We're seeing a militarization of police forces throughout the country," Eugene Ruyle of Veterans for Peace told the city council at the Tuesday meeting as spectators held "No Drone" signs. Ruyle was one of several proponents of the drone ban from groups who expressed fears that drones would be used to spy on citizens. City council members, however, rejected an outright ban on all drones and questioned Berkeley's ability to enforce such an ordinance."

Read it all here

This move is part of a larger concern by many that drones will be used by law enforcement to spy on American citizens. Namoi Wolf recently expressed her fears in a Guardian Online post here

Charles A. Blanchard
General Counsel
United States Air Force