Senators propose bill to ban warrantless federal aerial surveillance

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., on Wednesday introduced the “Protecting Individuals from Mass Aerial Surveillance Act” that would require federal authorities to obtain probable cause warrants from a judge in order to conduct aerial surveillance.

The bill would also prohibit federal authorities from contracting with commercial or private plane operators to perform unauthorized surveillance and make unlawfully collected data inadmissible in court.

The senators said in a release that the FBI has conducted warrantless surveillance in dozens of American cities using a small fleet of planes.

"Americans' privacy rights don't stop at the treetops," Wyden said when introducing the legislation.

The strictures of the bill would not apply to local and state authorities or federal entities performing environmental and wildlife management, searches for illegal vegetation or border patrol within 25 miles of a land border.

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