Although parodied in an episode of South Park years ago (see video below), Pennsylvania is finally addressing improper drone usage when Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 78 on October 12. Drones have been available for the average everyday consumer for quite a while and while some use it to take videos of nature, aerial views of properties or weddings, some use it to well, take surveillance of their friends and neighbors unsuspectingly.
Now, Pennsylvania will start imposing criminal penalties on improper drone use such as using the device to spy on other people. The new law goes into effect around December 12th so for those peeping toms out there, now is the time to launch. But in all seriousness, the law also prevents municipalities from regulating drones, which is at least a step in a positive direction. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Jeff Pyle of Armstrong County not a representative from Midland and Odessa.
The new law will impose a fine up to $300 if someone uses a drone to invade someone’s privacy or if the drone puts someone in physical harm. The new law also addresses people using drones to deliver contraband to inmates or patients in a mental hospital. It classifies this act as a 2nd-degree felony. There’s a serious penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
However, this law just imposes fines on everyday civilians. Law enforcement officials, government employees, first responders and utility companies are exceptions. This is not the first state to pass this type of law. Other states include California, Florida, and Mississippi.