By: Mike Vasilinda
Legislation named the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” was signed into law today. The measure requires law enforcement agencies to get a search warrant before flying over your home or property with an unmanned drone. Supporters say it’s better to have rules in place before most law enforcement agencies are flying over your house.
By signing legislation requiring police to get a search warrant if they want to fly an unmanned drone over your property, the Governor says he and lawmakers are protecting fourth amendment rights. “We want our own privacy. We believe in a fourth amendment. Now, there are exceptions”says Governor Scott.
There are three exceptions to the ban on drone use: The first is if police are stalking a suspected terrorist. Drones can be used if evidence has been presented to a judge and a search warrant issued. The third is swift action is needed to save a life or prevent serious property damage.
Only two law enforcement agencies in Florida are known to now have drones. Sponsor Joe Negron, says having rules in place before more own them is important. “There is an industry that wants to sell hundreds and thousands of these drones all over the country and 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.”, says Sen. Negron, R-Stuart.
Most law enforcement agencies initially opposed the limitations on drone use until they saw how much legislative horsepower was behind it.
House Sponsor Rich Workman (R-Brevard County), likens to use of drones to the early days of wiretaps. “It was pretty well willy-nilly used. It seemed like a good way to find the bad guys. But it also invaded people’s privacy that weren’t guilty.”
One of the biggest fears has been that police would use drones to monitor neighborhoods, and farm lands looking for crimes being committed. The ban takes effect July first.