Trying to preempt privacy concerns with the growing technology, the Florida House and Senate are moving forward with bills regulating the use of drones.
The unmanned aircraft have wide-ranging possible uses, including for a same-day delivery plan announced by Amazon.com, storm chasing, search-and-rescue missions and recording overhead video.
It’s this last possibility that has state lawmakers worried: How can personal privacy be protected, especially on private property, while still allowing the technology’s possibilities to be explored?
Committees in both chambers advanced bills (SB 766 and HB 649) Tuesday seeking to answer that question.
“This is a real this is a real issue,” said Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, the sponsor of the Senate bill. “Just within the last month, we had a drone that crashed into the bedroom window of a Hialeah, Fla., residence.”
Hukill’s bill and its House counterpart by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Eustis, would make it illegal to record someone else’s private property using a drone without their consent.
It wouldn’t apply in public places or to the parts of private property that are visible from public places, such as the front of a home.
But some lawmakers have raised questions about the legislation’s reach.
Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, asked about an exception for reporters gathering news. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, wondered how Google would be affected if in the coming years the company wanted to do a drone version of its “Street View” function. Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, said she’d like to see future provisions protecting children in public parks from sexual offenders.
The lone opponent in either the Senate Judiciary Committee or House Civil Justice Subcommittee was Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale.
“I’m concerned it might put a chilling effect on law enforcement and their ability to do surveillance,” Moraitis said.
Law enforcement agencies are already banned from using drones to collect evidence unless they have a warrant from a judge or reasonable suspicion that immediate action is needed to save lives or prevent the destruction of evidence, according to existing state law.
“This bill is very, very narrowly targeted to deal with private property, to deal with surveillance,” Hukill said.
And, she promised, it won’t affect your model airplane hobby.
Original article here.