Friday Dec 07, 201211:41 PM GMT
Florida bill to halt police drone spying
Fri Dec 7, 2012 11:41PM
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A bill introduced by Florida State Sen. Joe Negron would severely limit the use of unmanned flying surveillance drones by police and other law enforcement agencies.


Negron's "Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act", Senate Bill 92, would create rules that would prohibit police from using drones that are capable of taking pictures and video in most situations.


"I am very opposed to making it a standard practice for the government to have drones floating in the sky, monitoring the lawful movements of Florida citizens," Negron told reporters.


"I'm not sure we would know they were being used," Negron said. "A lot of these deployments are made in secrecy, and sometimes people found out they were being monitored months after the fact because this isn't something that's widely advertised."


Under the provisions of the bill, any evidence originating from drones wouldn't be admissible in court. Furthermore, it outlines clear guidelines for Floridians to file civil suits if they feel their privacy has been breached via use of a drone. Prison Planet




If signed into law, Negron's bill would take effect in July 2013, before the FAA's new rules come out. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups agree with the senator's concerns.


Negron has been no stranger to combating privacy concerns. He disagrees with red-light traffic cameras and dislikes when driver's licenses are swiped to verify voter eligibility.


The Federal Aviation Authority has begun allowing police departments across the country to use remote control aircraft, or drones, and some are starting to. Miami Police were the first agency in the nation to do so.


Police in Miami have been testing drones since 2009, using two 18-pound aircraft, one bought with a grant from the federal government, but have typically only flown the drones over the Everglades and below 400 feet.


The use of drones by police is generally opposed by the ACLU, which released a report a year ago calling for limits on their use, and warning that drones may "profoundly change the character of public life," especially as they become more sophisticated. The Republican Party also had a line in its platform this year supporting limits on aerial surveillance, and there have been bills filed at the federal level to restrict them.


Drones have a poor safety record, too. "A review of thousands of pages of unclassified Air Force investigation reports, obtained by The Washington Post under public-records requests, shows that drones flying from civilian airports have been plagued by setbacks. Among the problems repeatedly cited are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the "brains" of the aircraft and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers." The Washington Post



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