Skip to Content

Download PDF

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2460        FILED ON: 1/17/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1357


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Colleen M. Garry


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.






Colleen M. Garry

36th Middlesex

Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

Peter V. Kocot

1st Hampshire

Paul McMurtry

11th Norfolk

Ruth B. Balser

12th Middlesex

Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

26th Middlesex

Tom Sannicandro

7th Middlesex

Benjamin Swan

11th Hampden

Brian R. Mannal

2nd Barnstable

Christine E. Canavan

10th Plymouth

John W. Scibak

2nd Hampshire

Ryan C. Fattman

18th Worcester

Thomas J. Calter

12th Plymouth

Viriato Manuel deMacedo

1st Plymouth

Denise Provost

27th Middlesex

Jason M. Lewis

Fifth Middlesex

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2460        FILED ON: 1/17/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1357

By Ms. Garry of Dracut, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 1357) of Colleen M. Garry and others relative to the use of information derived from unmanned aerial vehicles as evidence in judicial, regulatory or other government proceedings.  The Judiciary. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen



An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              SECTION 1. Chapter 272 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 99B the following section:—

              Section 99C. 

              (a)              As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:—

              “Unmanned aerial vehicle”, an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.   

              (b)              Any use of an unmanned aerial vehicle shall fully comply with all Federal Aviation Administration requirements and guidelines.  Unmanned aerial vehicles may not be equipped with weapons.  The acquisition, purchase, or procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles shall be authorized, in the case of a unit of state or county government, by the Secretary of Public Safety, or, in the case of a municipality, by the city council or other governing body, subject to approval by the Secretary of Public Safety. 

              (c)              It is unlawful for a government entity or official to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle except as follows—

              (1)              in order to execute a warrant issued under section 2 of chapter 276.

              (2)              for purposes unrelated to criminal investigation or other law enforcement purposes, provided that information derived from such operation shall not be received in evidence in any criminal trial, hearing, or grand jury proceeding, or maintained, shared, or used for any intelligence purpose.

              (3)              in case of emergency when there is reasonable cause to believe that a threat to the life or safety of a person is imminent, subject to the following limitations:

              i.              the operator shall document the factual basis for the emergency; and

              ii.              not later than 48 hours after the unmanned aerial vehicle is initially deployed, a supervisory official shall file an affidavit describing the grounds for the emergency access.

              (d)              The lawful operation of unmanned aerial vehicles described in subsection (b) and the disclosure of information acquired by the operation of such vehicles shall be subject to the following limitations:

              (1)              When operated pursuant to a warrant, unmanned aerial vehicles shall collect data only on the warrant subject and avoid data collection on individuals, homes, and areas other than the warrant subject. 

              (2)              Facial recognition and other biometric matching technology shall not be used on data collected by an unmanned aerial vehicle, except to identify the subject of a warrant.

              (3)              Under no circumstances shall unmanned aerial vehicles be used to track, collect or maintain information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership or other entity unless such information relates directly to investigation of criminal activity, and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is involved in criminal conduct.  

              (e)              Data collected on an individual, home, or area other than the target that justified deployment shall not be used, stored, copied, transmitted, or disclosed for any purpose, except with the written consent of the data subject.  Such data shall be deleted as soon as practical, and in no event later than 24 hours after collection.

              (f)              Information acquired by government use of an unmanned aerial vehicle and information derived therefrom shall not be received in evidence in any judicial, regulatory, or other government proceeding if:

              (1)              the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle was unlawful;

              (2)              the unmanned aerial vehicle was used for an unlawful purpose or in an unlawful manner; or

              (3)              the disclosure would be in violation of the data retention limits in subsection (e).

              (g)              A government office or public official may include in its application for a warrant a request for an order delaying the notification required under subsection (g) for a period not to exceed 90 days, and the court shall issue the order if it determines there is reason to believe that notification of the existence of the warrant may have an adverse result as defined in section 1B of chapter 276.  Upon expiration of any period of delay granted under this subsection, the government office or public official shall provide the warrant subject a copy of the warrant together with notice required under, and by the means described in, subsection (h). 

              (h)              Not later than seven days after information is collected by an unmanned aerial vehicle pursuant to subsection (c)(1) of this section, the government entity or official shall serve upon, or deliver by registered or first-class mail, electronic mail, or other means reasonably calculated to be effective as specified by the court issuing the warrant to the subject of the warrant a copy of the warrant, a copy of the application for the warrant, and notice that informs such individual:—

              (1)              of the nature of the law enforcement inquiry with reasonable specificity;

              (2)              that information regarding the warrant subject was collected, the dates on which the information was collected, and a description of that information;

              (3)              whether notification was delayed pursuant to subsection (g); and

              (4)              the judicial official authorizing any delay in notification.

              (i)              On the second Friday of January of each calendar year, any judge issuing or denying a warrant under subsection (c)(1) during the preceding calendar year shall report on each such warrant to the office of court management within the trial court:

              (1)              the fact that the warrant was applied for;

              (2)              the identity of the government entity or official making the application;

              (3)              the offense specified in the warrant or application therefor;

              (4)              the place where the information was to be obtained;

              (5)              the fact that the warrant was granted as applied for, was modified, or was denied; and

              (6)              the number and duration of any extensions of the warrant.

              In June of each year, beginning in 2013, the court administrator in the office of court management within the trial court shall transmit to the legislature a full and complete report concerning the number of applications for warrants authorizing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles pursuant to subsection (c)(1) of this section.  Such reports shall include a summary and analysis of the data required to be filed with that office.  Such reports shall be filed with the offices of the clerk of the house and the senate and shall be public records.  The court administrator in the office of court management within the trial court shall issue guidance regarding the form of such reports.

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.