At the end of April, we posted on the passing of S.B. 766 through the Florida State legislature, and now on May 14, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed into law the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, in the State of Florida. However, with the passing of this law, it could result in an increase in litigation against insurance and construction companies that use drones for aerial surveying, and lead to First Amendment concerns for news media organizations. While this law is supposed to better protect Florida’s citizens from unwanted intrusion into their homes, prohibiting “a person, a state agency or a political subdivision from using a drone to capture an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance without his or her written consent if a reasonable expectation of privacy exists,” it could cause problems for companies legally using drones who might accidentally capture an image of a person in another dwelling while surveying damage from a hurricane or surveying a construction site.
However, many of these concerns are hypothetical until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publishes regulations that allow companies a bit more ease in obtaining licenses to fly these type of privately operated drones. We will keep watching state activity in this area and keep you updated on FAA regulation progress.