Missouri House Bill No. 46

Scott Pham and Casey Guernsey

Scott Pham, director of the Missouri Drone Journalism Program, speaks with Rep. Casey Guernsey at an early hearing for HB 46 on February 5, 2013. Photo by Jaime Cooke.

The Missouri Drone Journalism Program has been aware of HB 46 since it was introduced by Rep. Casey Guernsey early this year.  Today, a version of the bill has gained first round approval from the Missouri House and now the Associated Press is inaccurately  reporting that it prevents journalists from using drones.

The bill explicitly calls out journalists, but the text of the bill actually allows for the use of drones over land where the property owner has given permission:

 3. No person, group of persons, entity, or organization, including, but not limited to, journalists, reporters, or news organizations, shall use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance of any individual or property owned by an individual or business without the consent of that individual or property owner.

We have been operating under similar restrictions since the Program began and we do not believe this bill will shut us down or prevent us from pursuing more stories.

We are, however, deeply concerned with the bill and its implications for journalism as a whole.

Read the official text of HB 46 here.