Rep. Taylor’s ‘drone’ and ‘stingray’ bills pass state House


Legislation passed the state House of Representatives today setting parameters around the state’s use of drones and cell site simulators, commonly called “stingrays.”

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, sponsored both bills and said today was a good day for open government advocates and those who value individual freedom and liberty.

“Today’s actions by the House prove once again that freedom and liberty are not partisan issues,” said Taylor. “When we work together we can do great things for Washington citizens.”

House Bill 1639 creates new guidelines for when a state or local agency can use extraordinary sensing devices (ESD) or “drones,” and what they can do with the personal information gathered.  Specifically, the bill:

  • Prohibits state agencies from procuring an extraordinary sensing device
    (ESD) without an appropriation by the Legislature and prohibits a local
    agency from procuring an ESD without explicit approval of its governing
  • Requires agencies to publish written policies for the use of ESDs and to
    minimize collection and disclosure of personal information.
  • Prohibits agencies from operating an ESD and disclosing personal
    information unless specifically authorized by the act.
  • Allows agencies to operate an ESD without obtaining a warrant if the agency does not intend to collect personal information.
  • Allows agencies to operate an ESD and disclose personal information from
    the operation under certain circumstances.
  • Excludes all evidence collected by an ESD from all court, legislative, or
    regulatory proceedings if the collection or disclosure of personal information
    violates any provision of this act.
  • Creates a legal cause of action for damages where an individual claims a
    violation of this act injured his or her business, person, or reputation.
  • Requires agencies to maintain records related to each use of an ESD and file an annual report with the Office of Financial Management.

Taylor said the bill is similar to bipartisan legislation he proposed last year.  His previous bill placing restrictions on drones passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee.  The governor then placed a limited moratorium on the state’s use of drones and convened a task force to study the issue more thoroughly.

“While the task force didn’t come to a clear consensus, we did take some of their suggestions and cleaned up the language of the bill a little bit,” said Taylor.  “With the amount of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pushing for this bill, I don’t anticipate the governor will veto it this time around.”Rep. David Taylor speaks on the House floor

House Bill 1440 prohibits the use of cell site simulators, commonly referred to as “stingrays,” unless a warrant is issued.

A cell site simulator is a device that emits a signal mimicking a cellphone tower.  It allows law enforcement agencies to capture detailed information from a suspect’s cell phone, including location and who the person calls or texts.

“As technology evolves and is enhanced, electronic privacy is an important component to consider,” said Taylor.  “I have serious concerns about information collected from third parties when these devices are used and we will hopefully address that at some point in the future.  For now, we’re drawing a clear line in the sand and saying you can’t use this new technology unless you go to a judge and convince them to give you a warrant to do so.”

HB 1440 passed the House unanimously.  HB 1639 passed the House 73-25.  Both bills now move to the state Senate for further consideration.

The 105-day 2015 legislative session is scheduled to end April 26.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
461 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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Washington State House Republican Communications