At a time when manufacturers and some law enforcement officials are pushing the use of drones in U.S. communities for surveillance and policing, one of Chicago’s largest suburbs has adopted a groundbreaking anti-drone resolution that would ban the use of the aircraft for all but hobby and academic research uses.
On Monday, May 29, the Evanston City Council voted to become the third city in the U.S. to ban the use of drones. The Evanston resolution bans the use of drones for two years so that federal and state laws and regulations have a chance to catch up with this new technology. Evanston is the largest community in the United States to pass anti-drone legislation. Charlottesville, VA and St. Bonafacius, MN have also passed anti-drone resolutions or ordinances.
The North Shore Coalition for Peace, Justice & the Environment – NSCPJ – brought the resolution to Evanston Alderman Jane Grover, who agreed to help craft the resolution and to introduce it to the Human Services Committee, which passed out the committee unanimously. Grover collaborated to adapt the resolution language to permit the use of toy and hobby aircraft, as well as research and development endeavors to test unmanned aerial vehicles.
Before bringing the resolution to Alderman Grover, NSCPJ met with Evanston Police Chief Rich Eddington to seek his input and support. Eddington told the group that, while he could see value to drones when it came to search and rescue efforts, he understood that there could be concern where privacy issues were involved.
“The use of drones in American communities raises increasing concerns about privacy rights, constitutional rights and basic safety,” says Marcia Bernsten of NSCPJ and board member of Chicago Area Peace Action. CAPA, a founding member of NSCPJ, lent its support to the effort. “We’re heartened that in this vote, Evanston officials recognize the need to address these very serious concerns, and set an example for other municipalities across the nation.”