Under legislation filed Friday by Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell), a person whose image has been captured by an aerial drone without the person’s express consent may sue for injunctive relief and civil penalties. HB 912 applies to a person who owns or legally occupies real property and whose image is captured by an unmanned vehicle or aircraft. In addition to civil penalties, the bill also creates a criminal offense for the unauthorized capture of an image of a person who owns or legally occupies real property.
The bill excepts from criminal prosecution certain law enforcement activities, such as border control, fire suppression or rescue, valid searches pursuant to a warrant, and immediate pursuit of a person law enforcement has probable cause to believe committed a crime. It also does not apply to surveillance of public property or of a public place, as long as there is no magnification or enhancement from no more than six feet above ground. The exceptions do not appear to apply to images of persons on private property incidental to such activities for purposes of the civil action.
A claimant may recover $1,000 for each image captured or used, together with reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees. The consumer credit commissioner shall adjust the civil penalty each year to reflect the rate of inflation.