TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida legislature will consider a bill in the 2013 session that would protect residents and visitors from prying eyes in the sky.
Sen. Joe Negron (R-Palm City) filed SB92 last month. If passed, the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act would prohibit the use of domestic drones over the Sunshine State.
“A law enforcement agency may not use a drone to gather evidence or other information.”
The bill opens the door for any person whose privacy is violated by a drone to take civil action and would also make any evidence gathered in violation of the act inadmissible in court.
The act makes an exception allowing for the use of drones “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.”
The legislation only includes state and local law enforcement agencies in its prohibition of drone use, but Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin says the bill still has ramifications at the federal level because of Washington’s strong advocacy of drone use.
“The feds want to push these on the states, and if the states refuse, it’ll foil their plan. That’s my gut instinct,” he said. “They already spy on Americans so much that Rand Paul said it numbered in the ‘Gazillions’ after a secret meeting last fall. If the feds can get the states to start buying up and running drones over our cities, they’ll certainly want access to all that surveillance information in the future. It’s important that states begin drawing a line in the sand now – no aerial spying here.”
Boldin said passing the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act would also lay an important foundation for the future.
“If the legislature passes this bill, it’s going to be pretty tough for the feds to pull off the funding, manpower and resources to do it themselves. At that point, if they try, the states can nullify those acts too.”
SB92 was filed Dec. 5 and referred to a number of committees, including Criminal Justice, Judiciary, Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice and Appropriations.
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING
If you don’t live in Florida, encourage your representative and senator to introduce legislation to stop drone use. You can find model legislation and track efforts nationwide HERE.
Track the status of Drone legislation in states around the country HERE
If you live in Florida, begin contacting committee members now and ask them to move SB92 out of committee for a vote. You can find committee lists HERE.
Also contact your own senator and ask him or her to support this legislation. You can find senate contact information HERE.
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