Issues Main Topic Privacy Transparency

S.1664: An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles

MQ-9 Drone

On Wednesday Jan 22nd, the Massachusetts Senate will hold a hearing on S.1664, An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. S.1664 will:

  • Prohibit Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAVs”, or more commonly called “drones”) from being equipped with weapons;
  • Make it unlawful for government officials to operate a UAV, except to execute a warrant, or in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or safety;
  • Prohibit data collection without a warrant. Along these lines, UAVs could only use biometric software to identify individuals named in a warrant;
  • Prohibit UAVs from being used to track political, religious, or social relations;
  • Require that individuals surveilled by UAVs be served with a warrant;
  • Require annual reporting on warrants involving the use of UAVs.

As far as surveillance bills go, S.1664 is a decent one; it puts limits on how law enforcement can use drones within the Commonwealth, and it would prevent drones from being used as instruments of mass surveillance. Furthermore, the bill comes with reporting requirements, which will provide transparency into drone use.

Please take a moment to contact your senator, and ask them to support S.1664. If you’re not sure who your state senator is, you can find out from

And speaking of voting, 2014 Massachusetts elections are coming up, and we’re looking for people to run as Pirates. If you’re interested in running, please get in touch with us at

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