Privacy will be the  touchstone of the ACLU's work today at the Montana Capitol.

The morning will feature a Senate Judiciary hearing on a bill to limit drone use by government agencies in Montana. At noon we will be at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda to mark the 40th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision making abortion legal.

Senate Bill 150: "Prohibit state government from owning or using unmanned aerial vehicles," sponsored by Sen. Robyn Driscoll would make it illegal for information obtained by aerial drones to be used in criminal proceedings and prohibit law enforcement and other government agencies from owning any drones with "antipersonnel devices" like tear gas, Tasers, ammunition or anything else that can be used to hurt a person.

We support any legislation that will keep government from spying on Montanans. Drones can be appropriate in some situations -- think when law enforcement are about to enter an area and need to make sure it is safe -- but should not be used to spy on people without warrants.

The National ACLU released a report in late 2011 with guidelines on how to protect Americans' privacy in the era of drones. "Protecting Privacy from Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Use of Drone Aircraft" recommends that drones should not be deployed unless there are grounds to believe that they will collect evidence on a specific crime. If a drone will intrude on reasonable privacy expectations, a warrant should be required. The report also calls for restrictions on retaining images of identifiable people, as well as an open process for developing policies on how drones will be used.

Then at noon we'll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ensured women's right to make their own personal and private medical decisions.

The rally is sponsored by the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition (the ACLU of Montana, NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, The Montana Human Rights Network, Blue Mountain Clinic, Planned Parenthood of Montana, The Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, AAUW of Montana, Montana League of Women Voters, Montana State Business and Professional Women, Montana Women Vote, Mountain Country Women's Clinic, and All Families Healthcare) and will feature speakers from legislative, health care and activist backgrounds, as well as music and lunch.

Please join us.

Our schedule for the day:
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013
House Judiciary Committee 8 a.m. Room 137 

  • HB 236 Eliminate license exemption for certain private adolescent treatment programs

Joint Appropriations Committee 8 a.m., Room 317

  • Department of Corrections (Youth Services, Montana Correctional Enterprises

Senate Judiciary Committee 9 a.m., Room 303 

  • SB 150 Prohibit state government from owning or using unmanned aerial vehicles
  • SJ 3 Interim study of the Board of Pardons and Parole

Roe Rally  (Noon, Rotunda)

Join the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition for lunch and a rally commemorating the 40th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision ensuring women have the right to abortion.