California governor vetoes drone bill

California governor vetoes drone bill
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California Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a state bill Wednesday night aimed at increasing citizens' privacy protections against drone flights.  

The bill would have allowed property owners to file trespassing charges against drone operators who flew their unmanned aircraft less than 350 feet above their property. 

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In a veto statement, Brown said the bill "could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial users alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action."

While Brown noted the bill was well intentioned, he said drone operators would have been on the hook "whether or not anyone's privacy was violated by the flight." 

The decision is a win for the drone industry as well as news outlets that had pressed the governor to block the legislation.

The Consumer Electronic Association said it was pleased with the outcome. 

"While we agree issues of privacy and drones should be addressed, this legislation was the wrong approach," CEA President Gary Shapiro said in a statement. 

"With this veto, the Governor has set a path for drones and other unmanned aircrafts to continue revolutionizing a wide array of consumer and commercial activities, creating new businesses and jobs and providing life-changing solutions," he added. 

The trade group, which counts a number of drone stakeholders as members, predicts the industry could have a $14 billion economic impact in California, once commercial regulations are finalized by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

States have attempted to act on their own without federal commercial regulations. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 19 states have passed various legislation related to drones, while another four have passed resolutions related to the unmanned aircraft. 

Drone privacy and safety will be the topic of conversation at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday afternoon.