TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 25, 2013) – A bill nullifying warrantless drone spying was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott today. The bill passed the House 117-0 and the Senate 39-0.
SB92 prohibits any law enforcement agency from using unmanned drones to gather evidence or other information without a warrant. It reads, in part: ”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.
Asked what he liked about the bill Thursday, Scott had a simple response. “I like privacy,” he said.
The act makes its only 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.”
Some activists have criticized the bill due to this particular exception for one person in the federal government to authorize its use. While it does raise legitimate concerns, as things exist today, Floridians have no protections against drone.
Prior to the new law, without The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act:
1. The DHS can call on Florida to use drones for any “non-emergency” situation it wants.
2. The DHS can call on Florida to use drones for any emergency situation it wants.
3. Law enforcement in Florida can use drones in any situation they want.
Signing the bill into law eliminates number one and number three, so this bill ushers in a MASSIVE improvement over the status quo.