Drone drama: Mississippi seeks drone prohibition law

Drone drama: Mississippi seeks drone prohibition law
Mississippi Representatives tackle a debate on the legality of drones.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi is the latest state to address the increasing number of drone issues. For over two years people have been arrested in the United States for illegally flying drones, and that number continues to rise.

Mississippi House Bill 347, more commonly referred to as the "Drone Prohibition Act," has been introduced as a way "to prohibit any person from using a drone to capture unauthorized images." Mississippi wants to join the 20 other states in that already have drone laws.

The bill classifies a drone is "any unmanned airborne device that is operated without an individual in or on the device."

Last week, drones made national headlines when one reportedly carrying six pounds of meth crashed down over the Mexico border.

Drones have also increasingly become a topic of national security.

Most recently, secret service officers spotted a "device" believed to be a drone flying low near the White House before crashing into a wall.

"It's a work in progress. We have to address it," said Mississippi Representative Ken Morgan (R-Dist. 100).

One of the main focuses of the bill addresses flying over private areas such as airports, prisons, police stations, and military bases.

"We can't have people flying over prison yards where inmates exercise, dropping contraband," said Morgan.

Morgan clarified that the bill isn't intended to stop people from doing hobbies such as bird watching or flying for leisure purposes.

Mississippi Rep. Timmy Ladner questioned the idea of a new law, and suggested expanding a law already in place.

"House Bill 347 is designed to prevent people from taking pictures of my family and family activities on private property," said Ladner. "I've had enough feedback that folks seem to think we need to let this bill go away and expand the voyeurism laws to cover drones."

Ladner said he wasn't against the bill, but was rather echoing the concerns from residents in his district.

"I don't know if it's in danger, I'm just saying that I'm going to listen to to their concerns and then decide," said Ladner.

If the bill is passed, any person that is found violating it can be imprisoned for a maximum of six months, or face a $500.00 fine for each image found in violation of the act.

For additional information and to view the entire proposed bill, click here.