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North Carolina Law May Regulate Drone Surveillance of Hunters

The use of drone surveillance to monitor hunters in North Carolina is now regulated by law.

North Carolina House Bill 1099, parts of which were implemented Monday, prohibits animal rights activists from using drones to survey hunters. Nationwide, state, and local governments are cracking down on the use of drones and their surveillance capabilities.

Last year, PETA introduced the “Air Angel” drone for use in monitoring hunters, in hopes of discovering illegal activities.

Will Potter, an independent journalist, started a Kickstarter campaign this year to fund a documentary that will use drones to film agricultural groups and investigate their environmental practices. This form of advocacy has come under fire from state governments that have passed laws prohibiting the filming of agricultural areas. The practice, known as “ag-gag,” is in use in North Carolina.

“I think that some of the drone regulations we see right now in North Carolina and other states as well are not, in fact, about drones or the technology at all,” Potter said. “They’re about attempts to shroud this industry in secrecy and hide factory farms.”

The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has voiced concerns as well.

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“[The law allows] surveillance of any public or private event or place where the general public has been invited,” a spokesman for the group said, “which begs the question that if I have my neighborhood over for a barbecue, does that mean that law enforcement have the right to conduct surveillance on my barbecue?”

Liz Woolery, a Ph.D. student in the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication said:

What we’re hearing is that people in power and government law enforcement should have unobstructed right to surveil and monitor us in all manners. But when citizens try to use similar technology to hold industry and corporations accountable for their actions, that’s being made illegal.”


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North Carolina Law May Regulate Drone Surveillance of Hunters