OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Oklahoma lawmakers are discussing a bill to ban theft of unmanned aircraft – or drones – on private property in rural areas.

State Senator Casey Murdock, who sponsored the measure, said that it would govern drones flying at 120 meters or less, and that this measure would not protect Oklahomans living in municipalities. Operators who violate the measure risk up to one year in prison.

"For me, there is currently a question of private property rights and a privacy issue," Murdock said. "What I am doing is simply giving the local law enforcement the opportunity to write a speed ticket for someone who is not piloting a drone in accordance with the regulations of the United States. the FAA. "

Exceptions are provided for drone pilots employed by the state or the federal government, law enforcement, utility companies, oil and gas companies or as part of a Federal authorized commercial transaction. Aviation Administration. A private owner can also give the written approval of a drone operator, the CNHI News news agency reported.

The chances of the bill becoming law are unclear.

Rodd Moesel, Chair of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said his organization was closely monitoring the proposed legislation to identify potential unwanted effects. Bureau members have the feeling that any unknown drone flying below 75 meters is entering private property, he said. Moesel also claimed that members feared that foreigners would use drones as "voyeurs", or not sell goods to steal animals and trailers.

"When you live in the country where many of these farms are, police can be miles away," he said.

Murdock said he believed landowners would provide access to universities undertaking meteorological research, but researchers warn that the language used in the bill will be essential.

"I know his intention is certainly to protect weather-related research and any other research using unmanned aircraft," said John Woods, executive director of government affairs at the University of Oklahoma. "All about weather has implications for a multitude of industries, including agriculture."

The multi-million dollar unmanned aerospace industry of the state employs more than 550 Oklahomans, according to the Oklahoma Aircraft Commission.