GOP rep unveils bill barring feds from using drones to monitor citizens, amid coronavirus enforcement concerns
GOP rep unveils bill barring feds from using drones to monitor citizens, amid coronavirus enforcement concerns

By Adam Shaw | Fox News

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., is introducing a bill to prevent the federal government from using drones to spy on U.S. citizens — amid concern about the use of drones by authorities in the U.S. and abroad to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“Although we are living in unprecedented times, we must not compromise our long recognized constitutional rights,” Biggs told Fox News.

The “Buzz Off Act” would prevent any federal law enforcement agency from using a drone to surveil a U.S. citizen for any purpose. There are, however, exceptions. Surveillance would still be allowed if a citizen gave written consent, if it was warranted to stop a terror attack, or if a law agency obtains a search warrant.

Biggs noted that both China and Spain have been using drones to enforce stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus crisis — and that they had been used in a limited capacity in parts of the U.S.

“In California, drones have been equipped with speakers and cameras to help enforce the coronavirus lockdown; in at least one New Jersey city, these devices are being deployed to harangue citizens into heeding social distancing guidelines,” he said.

GOVERNORS FACE MOUNTING COURT CHALLENGES OVER CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN ORDERS

According to Business Insider, police in Elizabeth, N.J., used drones to spread an automated message reminding people of stay-at-home orders, while it has also been used to check on homeless people in parts of California.

“Any freedom-loving American is left to wonder: what’s next? The Fourth Amendment and decades of Supreme Court precedent grant all American citizens a right to privacy,” he said. “I won’t let our nation be transformed into a police state, nor will I sit idly by and let a soulless machine tell me how to live my life. These nosy little drones need to buzz off!”

The bill comes amid increasing concerns across the U.S. about the lockdowns and the methods used to enforce them.

House Republicans, led by Biggs, earlier this month urged Attorney General William Barr to review stay-at-home and other orders issued by state and local leaders in response to the crisis.

Meanwhile, governors across the country are facing legal challenges to their shutdown orders from citizens and businesses keen to get back to normal life — with a number having success in voiding those orders.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

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