On April 28, 2015, the Florida State Legislature passed SB 766, or better known as the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, which permits commercial drone use, but bans the use of drones for the surveillance of private individuals without their prior consent.
Specifically, the bill states that “a person, a state agency or a political subdivision [is prohibited] 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.”
But what does that mean? Well, the bill specifies that “a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a place where they have a legal right to be.” The bill does not include an exception for law enforcement; law enforcement is required to obtain a warrant unless exigent circumstances exist, like a terrorist attack. However, there are exceptions for property tax valuation; inspection of electric, water, and natural gas utilities; aerial mapping; and cargo delivery, IF the drone and its operator are in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
The bill is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott who is an advocate for consumer privacy. We will keep you posted.