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Florida bans drones to keep cops from spying on citizens

by Dara Kam | April 25th, 2013

Rep. Ritch Workman, Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Joe Negron

Police, sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies won’t be able to use drones to spy on Floridians except in special emergencies under a new law that goes into effect on July 1.

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” today as the bill’s sponsors – Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne – looked on. The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Negron, the powerful Senate budget chief and a professed libertarian, said the prohibition is necessary to protect Floridians’ privacy.

“A lot of times legislators react to events rather than set ground rules before the events occur,” Negron told reporters. “There’s an industry that wants to sell hundreds of thousands of these drones all over the country. Before they’re up in the sky hovering around monitoring people in their cars and their backyards, I think it was a good idea to say here’s the rules we’re going to have in Florida on that. I think that we’re right on time to make sure that we protect people’s privacy.”

When asked if the law is necessary, Scott said: “The real need for this is the fact that we want our own privacy. We believe in the Fourth Amendment.”

The bill includes exceptions allowing the use if:
_ The secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security decides a high risk of a terrorist attack exists;
_ Sheriffs, police or other law enforcement agencies first obtain a search warrant;
_ A law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, such as to search for a missing child or stop the escape of a suspect.

The state’s sheriffs wanted to allow the drones to be used to monitor large-scale public events such as the Super Bowl. But Negron refused to budge on the issue.

“There’s exceptions. The House and Senate worked with law enforcement to make sure we can do the right thing in times of emergency, if there’s safety, things like that. But look, I believe in privacy,” Scott said.

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4 Responses to “Florida bans drones to keep cops from spying on citizens”

  1. Paul Woessner Says:

    I believe that this legislation is a short sided over reaction to an unfounded fear that some how the police would invade our privacy while providing safety aimed only at providing headlines for politicians instead of embracing technology and providing First Responders with better more effective tools with which to do their jobs.

  2. Shaner Says:

    @ Paul, I believe you are some how connected to the drone industry.

  3. Nothing but legislative fantasy... Says:

    The exception(s) under the act will likely become the rule in everyday practice.

    For law enforcement, EVERYTHING is a over-the-top reaction in order to create the self-made atmosphere of “imminent danger”.

    These artifitially-created “emergencies” by LEOs are nothing but smoke screens to be used later in demanding bigger budgets, higher salaries, bigger pensions, etc. They also promote the nazification of America by law enforcement in the 21st century.

    Ever seen how 10 or more more police vehicles respond to a simple everyday “fender-bender” with no injuries?

    With all the lights flashing at the scene, and the intentional disruption of the traffic flow by law enforcement, an ordinary driver would likely believe it was the beginning of World War III.

    The reality is, of course, nothing but a paranoid reaction to factual perception that does not exist.

    And so, the new Act will likely not be effective in its objective; protecting the privacy of Floridians.

  4. Someone with an open mind... Says:

    Sadly, I guess when someone believes everyone is out to get them, paranoia is just good thinking.

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