Amazon, Google Emerge Victorious in California Drone Bill Battle

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A California bill that would have curtailed drone usage, prompting the concern and considerable lobbying effort of tech companies like Amazon and Google, has died.

In August, legislation passed both houses of the California legislature that would have banned unmanned vehicles from flying 350 feet above property without express consent of property owners. Tech groups, including those backed by Amazon and Google, which have nascent drone delivery programs, and other companies with commercial drone plans, like GoPro, opposed the legislation.

Those groups scored a win. On Wednesday evening, California's governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill.

"Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination," he wrote. "This bill, however, while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action."

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The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), a trade group that opposed the bill, has estimated that the state will accrue $14 million in economics gains assuming Federal legislation on drones (expected later this year or early next) lands favorably. The group applauded the governor's move. Gary Shapiro, the CEA president and CEO, offered this in a statement: "Safe, responsible drone use will transform the way we do business — allowing these devices to assist in search and rescue and disaster relief missions, improve crop production and efficiency, and create safer work environments for infrastructure maintenance."

Tech's policy mercenaries are not be finished, however. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks these sorts of things, 46 different states have considered 156 different bills about drones this year.

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