Bill would bar snooping, attacks by drones in skies over Chattanooga

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Sen. Mae Beaver’s bill to penalize federal enforcement of anti-gun owner laws staggered in the Tennessee General Assembly.

But she is taken up her jealousy for the rights of Chattanoogans with another bill to prevent the national government from flying drones over the state without criminal warrant.

She and Rep. James Van Huss have proposed a bill they dub the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act aimed at restricting the state’s air space. It prohibits regulators, game wardens, drug task forces, traffic cops, prison wardens and regular police from using flying robots “notwithstanding any law to the contrary.”

But SB796 and HB591 say the proposal does not block flights of federal or state drones “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States secretary of homeland security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.”

Nor does it prevent overflights by drones of Chattanooga or Soddy-Daisy “if the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant signed by a judge *** .” Nor does it block use of winged robots if a police agency “possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life.”

The two-page bill states its recognition that an “aggrieved party” may sue to obtain relief or remedy, and that data used in violation of the measure can’t be entered as evidence in a criminal case.

The Tenth Amendment Center Tennessee is enthusiastic about the barrier the bill would raise. “There has been a great deal of concern in this country over the use of drones to spy on American citizens on U.S. soil with no warrant or other probable cause,” the group says. “The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act provides strong protections to ensure that the use of such drones falls within the constitutional scope and remains under judicial oversight.”

The Tenth Amendment Center insists that the U.S. honor the provision in the federal constitution that says powers not delegated to the national government by enumeration are reserved to the states and the to the people.

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