Florida Bans Warrantless Drone Use, Restricts Use Scenarios
April 18, 2013 8:02 PM
Some civil liberties advocates feel the President shouldn't have the power to order the killings of Americans on U.S. soil.
(Source: Drone Wars UK)
The feds won't be happy about this
Not in our state.
I. Drone Controversy Heats Up
That's the message Florida legislators sent to law enforcement official both at a federal and state level, as well as defense and national intelligence agencies when it came to
allegedly abusive overuse of unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs), commonly dubbed drones. The officials this week passed a law that would not altogether ban drone use in Florida, but would seriously restrict it.
As drone use has
in conflict regions
, both for surveillance and combat, the fliers have begun to creep into U.S. airspace as well. The Obama administration recently suggested that armed drone
death strikes could potentially be carried out without warrant against American citizens
on U.S. soil, under certain circumstances.
The American Civil Liberties Union
Electronic Frontier Foundation
have complained about the federal government's
refusal to ban the use of armed drones
over U.S. states. But the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) has been unapologetic about deploying the same kinds of drones used in Iraq --
Reaper drones and their ilk
-- to patrol U.S. border states.
Some law enforcement officials argue that for small police forces, lighter drones -- which cost around $30,000 USD -- are a highly cost-effective tool for patrolling and can help catch criminals. They say banning drones will raise costs.
II. Florida Limits the "Police State"
But those pleas fell on deaf ears as Florida legislators passed the "Freedom From Unwanted Surveillance Act"
117-0. Gov. Rick Scott (R) has already promised to sign the bill, which will make Florida only the third state to restrict drone use. Idaho and Virginia had passed similar laws.
Under the bill drones could only be used by law enforcement in a handful of scenarios -- for example searching for a kidnapped child, managing hostage situations, searching for a dangerous fugitive, or tracking hurricanes/wildfires to prevent serious property damage. But any use in a criminal case will now require surveillance to be ordered via a warrant -- ensuring due process. Illegally gathered evidence, under the law, will not be admissible in court and may lead to penalties for the collecting department.
It also contains an allowance for drone use in the case of a "credible threat" of an (imminent) terrorist attack.
So far, only three law enforcement agencies are licensed to use UAVs in Florida by the
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) and none of them have deployed fliers.
Florida State Senate
"This is about the Internet. Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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