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Originally published Monday, April 7, 2014 at 3:58 PM

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Editorial: Gov. Jay Inslee’s astute drone veto

Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of drone legislation creates an opportunity to review privacy and use issues for the 2015 Legislature.


Seattle Times Editorial

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USE of unmanned aerial vehicles in Washington has a better chance of moving ahead in an orderly, coherent fashion with Gov. Jay Inslee’s grounding of clumsy drone legislation.

The governor’s veto of EHB 2789 wipes the slate clean for a task force Inslee said he would create to look at statewide standards for drone use.

Inslee also imposed a moratorium on the purchase of drones by statewide agencies or their use for the next 15 months. The intent is to produce a new bill for the 2015 Legislature.

The governor’s veto was not well received. The Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was not pleased, nor was state Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake. She described Inslee as shortsighted and wrong to veto the bipartisan drone bill.

No one can reasonably argue against drone legislation that addresses public safety and privacy issues.

The legislation, which only looked at uses by government and law enforcement, contained language at cross purposes.

A potential casualty was legal transparency. Conflicting passages put in jeopardy the public’s access to gathered information and its disclosure by government.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes, and these GPS-guided devices can be equipped to collect a variety of visual and sensory images. Their degree of mobility and access is not well understood by all. What indeed constitutes expectations of privacy in these circumstances?

The governor’s task force can help answer that question along with others about acquisition and use, while protecting access to public information.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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