Public pushes against police plans to use drones

Posted: 12/05/12 at 5:05 pm EST      Last Updated: 12/05/12 at 5:16 pm EST

UNDATED (NBC) -- There are privacy worries in Washington State over police use of drones. The city of Seattle is looking at regulating where and when they can fly and for what reason.

Seattle's Dragonfly X6 -- with its tiny camera -- looks like a toy. And, concerned city leaders don't want Seattle police to play around with it.

"I literally have walked down the street and people have stopped me and said, 'I don't like drones, I hope you guys don't use them,'" said Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council.

There was an uproar of privacy concerns in October when Seattle police introduced its drone to citizens.

The proposed safeguards include: use only for data collection, no general surveillance with a specific target requiring a warrant. The drone will carry no weapons, its use must be authorized by a sergeant, and they must maintain a log.

"This will not be a tool that the government can use to do general surveillance to get people doing something and then build cases against them," Harrell said.

Drones are limited. FAA limits use over crowds. With a short battery life, it can only fly for about nine minutes. The ACLU helped to write the proposed regulations. They want the device recordings to be quickly erased.

"We would like the information to be deleted as quickly as possible if its not relevant to the reason the drone was deployed," Shankar Narayan, ACLU Washington.

Have a story idea or news tip for 7NEWS?

Email:, or call us at 1-800-280-TIPS.