California Modifies Proposed UAV Trespass Bill

Would Consider Any Flight Under 350 Feet As A Violation

The California general assembly is considering a modified UAV trespass bill that would make any flight over private property at an altitude under 350 feet a violation of the state’s trespassing law.

The bill as modified says that liability for “wrongful occupation of real property and damages to a person who operates an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, as defined, less than 350 feet above ground level within the airspace overlaying the real property, without the consent of the landowner express permission of the person or entity with the legal authority to grant access or without legal authority.”

Basically it means that if you don’t have the express permission of the property owner, you can be charged with a crime if you fly your UAV under 350 feet. The FAA limits most UAV flights to an altitude of 400 feet.

For the purpose of the bill, “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft. “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft, that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.

Previously, the bill would have only made such flights a crime if the UAV operator knowingly violated the landowner’s rights, and captured still or video images or audio recording, and (the ‘ands’ are important here) that image or recording of the plaintiff showed them “engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity”, and the invasion of privacy was “in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.”

Now it includes a blanket ban of anything under 350 feet.

The bill is still working its way through the California legislature. It was last amended on June 30th.