Phoenix Drone Regulations

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The City of Phoenix is considering regulations on drones. Councilman Sal DiCiccio will tell us about the draft regulations.

TED SIMONS: The city of Phoenix is considering a proposal to regulate drones over the city limits. Phoenix councilman Sal Diciccio is involved with writing the draft regulations. He joins us now. Thanks for joining us. Your plans to regulate drones in Phoenix. Give us some ideas.

SAL DICICCIO: It's basically nonregulatory. What we're doing is basically outlining the parameters of where you can use them and how you can use them and I need to make sure that I give complete credit as well to Michael Nowakowski, councilman Nowakowski. He was my partner on this. We worked together on it. And so it was something that we worked jointly. But what it does, it's going to balance the three major things: Privacy, security and commerce. We wanted to make sure we encouraged commerce, same time protecting individual privacy. Privacy from your neighbor and privacy from your government. Now from my end of it, I really wanted to focus on government. I just don't think the government has a right to view everything we're doing in our private lives. So we have some reasonable cause language in the ordinance, as well.

TED SIMONS: So ideas here. You can't film or photograph, audio record up there, others on their own property with your drone? Explain, please.

SAL DICICCIO: Well drones are so equipped and this technology is moving at a pretty rapid pace. So what you don't want to do is get involved in the commerce end of it, allow people to do the commerce part but in your own private home, this is privacy from your neighbor, Ted. You want to make sure that your neighbor is not video taping you or anyone else is or a stalker. Right now, you can fly a drone over somebody's home, video tape them, they won't even know that this is occurring, because it can go up to 200 feet or more. Literally you can fly a drone and they can see literally some of the smallest things, smallest objects.

TED SIMONS: I'm sure. But then you mentioned commercial purposes, mapping, artistic, journalistic purposes. They're out there. I see a drone over my house or close to my house and I'm thinking I'm not crazy about that. This could be someone mapping. This could be someone doing some sort of art project, correct?

SAL DICICCIO: That's correct and they're excluded from the ordinance. So individuals that are doing commerce, as long as they're not video taping you in your backyard or the privacy of your own personal home, whether you're inside your home or in the backyard, the front yard you're pretty much open game according to the Constitution. Anything in the public right of way, there's not much you can do that about that. So let's say you're a journalist. It doesn't impact you at all. If you're mapping -- let's say a real estate use, where we're seeing quite a bit of this right now where people want to sell their homes, they want to market their homes, they have drones going by. They can video tape the home. If they inadvertently getting somebody sun bathing in their backyard, they can ask for the permission of that individual.

TED SIMONS: So if I'm a real estate person, or god forbid a journalist, and I'm up there and I've got my drone up there and I accidentally take a shot of you barbecuing in the backyard and throwing a frisbee at the dog, that still has to be removed. Even though it was accidental, even though it's for commercial purposes, I've got to get rid of that.

SAL DICICCIO: If you're in your backyard, you should have an expectation of privacy. Now, it took us, we started working on this in December of last year. And what we've heard is that this is pretty much one of the national models that they're going to be looking at. We had individuals from the drone industry say this is one of the best things that they've ever seen. Because what it does is it has a balance. We worked with the Goldwater institute, with the ACLU. Imagine those two individuals working together, it was fantastic. But it's a privacy and First Amendment rights are protected, as well.

TED SIMONS: Is it enforceable?

SAL DICICCIO: Yes, it is.


SAL DICICCIO: Well, if you think about it, you have a complete right of privacy in your own property. You have it. We do it right now with peeping Tom. You can't be spying on somebody on your neighborhood without getting in trouble. There is no ordinance right now with the drone. There's another issue, let's say over the ballpark, you see a game. According to our city attorneys, there could be drones flying over there. So if you could imagine 50, 30 or even 10 of these drones flying over and they bump into each other, now, you have a safety problem, where they could land on somebody. So what we've done is we've looked a real reasonable level and expectation of privacy and one of the biggest things we have in here deals with government being able to spy on individuals. And here's where I look at it as. First of all, people know I'm more in the conservative side. So people I work with don't generally march but others do. And people that I may not be in favor of but that doesn't mean we should be spying on them. It's free speech. So if they know that their government is overseeing everything they're doing, it's going to cool free speech. We want to encourage people to protest their government, we want that to happen, it's a good thing, it's healthy.

TED SIMONS: But also in terms of law enforcement, I mean you got helicopters up there chasing people right and left, they could be flying over my neighborhood. You could have a drone. A., that's the procedural aspect of it but B., how do I know that that's the police, that that's a mapping company, that that's a journalistic enterprise or that's just my crazy neighborhood trying to find out more about me?

SAL DICICCIO: Well, the enforcement part of it is, like you said, earlier, is it enforceable? Yes, it is. They've got mapping and they've got GPS inside of each one of these drones so when it lands or if we were able to find it, we're able to determine exactly where it took off from. We heard this from the drone industry, too, because they provided an incredible amount of information. They also have, they're concerned dealing with the airports. A lot of these drones, the newer drones are being equipped with equipment inside that prevents them from going within five miles of an airport.

TED SIMONS: Like a fence.

SAL DICICCIO: Exactly like a fence.

TED SIMONS: What about just registering the drones? We just know, you know you buy a drone, it can go more than a couple of hundred feet in the air, you've got to register it?

SAL DICICCIO: Every one of them has some sort of identification on it, too. What I didn't want to do was to get into the heavy regulatory part of it. All we're looking at is there's going to be less than 1% of the population creating the problems outside of government. And so why create a law that's going to impact 99% of the people when we're really focused on the 1%? But the other part of it deals with the government end of it. We should not and we clearly should not be filming individuals in the privacy of their own home. We have reasonable cause language in here as well that says government shouldn't do this unless we have a warrant or we have reasonable cause expected that those people have committed some type of crime.

TED SIMONS: There's a lot of things government can't do without reasonable cause.


TED SIMONS: Okay. So you mentioned that you are -- Phoenix is kind of being looked at as a model. Are you guys looking at any other cities as a model?

SAL DICICCIO: We've looked at every city in the country. Most of them are regulatory based, banning them or making it very difficult. We don't want to do that. For example, Amazon wants to be able to deliver goods by drone. Well, we're not saying you can't do that. You just can't film someone in their backyard without their permission. That's the only thing they would need to do. So with this technology, it's one of the first times we wanted to get ahead of it. We don't want to discourage technology, we just don't want to do that. It's like discouraging the automobile when they had the horse and buggy. You don't want to do that.

TED SIMONS: How soon is it going to be ready for a vote?

SAL DICICCIO: We need to do some more cleanup on this. The ACLU had some more comments and concerns. We want to make sure we address that and we heard more in testimony so we want to bring it back and clean it up. We've gone through multiple versions of this to make sure it's clean and take care of any of the unintended consequences.

TED SIMON: All right, very good. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

SAL DICICCIO: Appreciate it.

Sal DiCiccio: Phoenix City Councilman

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