On October 12, 2018, Pennsylvania approved a new law that imposes criminal penalties on individuals who use drone to spy on others. The law takes effect in 60 days.
Under this law, the state may impose a fine of up to $300 on any individual who uses a drone to invade another person’s privacy or puts another person in fear of being physically harmed by the drone. The law also imposes a more serious penalty for an individual who uses a drone to deliver contraband to an inmate in prison—a prison sentence up to 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000. The law also prohibits municipalities from regulating drones, which will alleviate some of the patchwork drone law we currently have across the United States. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said, “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. Drones should not be a tool to spy on someone in their yard or through their window.”
There are exceptions for law enforcement officials, first responders, and utility company employees, as well as some government employees, if they are using drones in furtherance of their official duties and responsibilities.