Lawmakers, both national and local, are weighing restrictions.
Eighteen states have considered bills that would limit the use of unmanned aerial systems, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and more are likely to follow suit.
In Washington, meanwhile, lawmakers are pushing for new civil liberties and privacy protections to ease fears about invasive surveillance from the skies.
Manufacturers of unmanned aerial systems say there is vast potential for police departments and law enforcement officials to use drones in their work. But the idea is being met with strong resistance in some states, including Virginia, which last week sent a bill to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) that would create a two-year moratorium on police work with unmanned aircraft.
Several states — including California, Florida, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Missouri — are considering a moratorium similar to Virginia’s.