The Illinois House today gave unanimous approval to a bill sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that adds new limits on police use of unmanned aircraft or drones.

The bill, already approved by the Senate, now goes to Gov. Quinn for his signature.

SB2937 amends the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act adopted last year to restrict police from using privately-owned drones to gather information that police agencies would not be permitted under the law to collect with their own drones.

But the bill also eases requirements that police get a search warrant before using drones to permit their use without a warrant to determine whether a disaster or public health emergency exists and to coordinate response and recovery efforts during an emergency.

“As conversations about this new technology have gone forward, we’ve all learned more about its potential benefits and drawbacks,” Biss said in a statement. “I’m confident that the law we are now fine-tuning will protect Illinois residents’ civil liberties but also enable the use of some very valuable tools for law enforcement and disaster response.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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