Chicago lawmakers are attempting to amend the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act to permit law enforcement to fly surveillance drones over “large scale events” in Chicago. The bill references festivals and concerts, but ACLU Illinois says the amendment could empower police to fly drones over political protests and rallies.
According to Gizmodo, the ACLU asked lawmakers to include language barring drones from protests, but they declined.
The bill passed in its second reading in the House last week and will advance to its third and final reading.
Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU Police Practices Project, said that the ACLU’s position was for the amendment to block police surveillance drones from First Amendment protected activities, including protests or walk-outs. The bill does not require police to obtain warrants or suspect criminal activity before launching drones to monitor public events.