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GOP Convention Turns Cleveland into a No-Drone Zone

Between Sunday, July 17, and Friday, July 22, some 50,000 GOP delegates and politicians will descend on Cleveland, Ohio for the Republican National Convention. What you won't see among that crowds are drones. The entire 83-square-miles of land and water, including some in "surrounding communities," will officially be a no-drone zone.

Those suburban areas around the city proper encompass five counties in Northeastern Ohio. If you're caught flying any unmanned aircraft within that area, you may be subject to civil and criminal charges, according to the FAA and the U.S. Secret Service.

MORE: What the FAA's Drone Rules Could Mean for You

The Secret Service called the move a normal part of the planning process, but presumably the agencies are worried about people potentially weaponizing drones with guns or chemical weapons. The official line, though, is no comment.

"I can't elaborate on why drones are not authorized in the area, other than security reasons," agency spokesperson Nicole Mainor said.

The no-zone drone change comes on the heels of the Senate passing a bill that excludes key privacy provisions in drone usage. In particular, the bill does not require commercial and government users of drones to disclose if they collect personal information, including facial recognition technology. That means, companies that film you via drone could then use the personal data they gather for advertising or marketing purposes, and there are no checks on when sensitive information would need to be destroyed.

This bill is a re-authorization of a previous bill that expires on July 18; it now heads to President Obama for his signature. The previous version of the bill contained the privacy regulations. Also stripped from the new version was a provision that said governments must disclose a drone's location and capabilities, such as cameras or license plate readers.

What did stay in the bill is a prohibition from interference with emergency response activities, with potential fines of up to $20,000.

Anna Attkisson
Anna Attkisson is the editorial director at Tom's IT Pro. After getting infected with the tech bug at Wireless World and Cellular Business magazines as an intern in 1998, Anna Attkisson went on to dabble in a sorts of publications covering everything from children’s fashion to cars. During the last 9 years she’s returned to her roots where she’s been writing and editing for Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide, before moving on to Tom’s IT Pro. Follow Anna Attkisson at @akattkisson.