Bill to target ‘peeping tom’ drones signed into law

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Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation to increase penalties for using a drone to spy on or videotape someone in a private place.

House Bill 1346, now Act 78 of 2018, creates the crime of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft.

When the law takes effect in 90 days, a first offense will be a summary and subsequent violations will be a third-degree misdemeanor.

“With the rise in popularity of drones with video cameras, this is a commonsense step to prevent the use of drones to invade someone’s privacy,” Wolf said in a statement. “Drones should not be a tool to spy on someone in their yard or through their window.”

Non-traffic summary offenses carry fines of up to $300. Conviction of a third-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

The penalty is more serious for using a drone to deliver contraband to a person in a prison or mental hospital. That crime is a second-degree felony.

There are exceptions for law enforcement officials, first responders, utility company workers, and some government employees for using drones in their official duties.

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