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Virginia Senate Panel Backs Moratorium On Drones

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A Virginia state Senate committee is backing a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by police and government agencies.

The measure approved by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee is similar to one pending in the House of Delegates. The bills originally would have imposed regulations on the use of drones, including a requirement that authorities obtain a warrant before deploying the small, unmanned surveillance aircraft.

Supporters of the regulations say drones pose a threat to Virginians' privacy rights.

Law enforcement groups vigorously opposed the regulations, so lawmakers decided on the moratorium to give them more time to study the issue. The bills include an exception allowing police to use drones in an emergency, or to search for missing children or elderly people.

They'll be up for floor votes today.

The vote comes just a day after the city of Charlottesville became the first city in the United States to pass a measure  calling for a ban on drones.

The resolution, passed Monday, "calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court," and "pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

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