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Florida poised to become first state with anti-drone law

Jaikumar Vijayan | April 22, 2013
A Florida bill that would restrict the use of airborne drones by state law enforcement officials is one signature away from becoming the first law of its kind in the country.

"We have long warned about the dangers of unregulated, warrantless use of surveillance technology, and unfortunately the changes in surveillance technology have outstripped the law's ability to adapt to protect people," said Baylor Johnson, a spokesman for the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

From that standpoint, the Florida bill is a major step forward, he said. "The fact that both votes were unanimous shows a recognition by our legislators that these protections are overdue," he said via email. "This bill is a major leap for Florida in catching up to the state of technology by putting strict controls in place that protect everyone from needless, invasive surveillance."

The drone industry and its supporters, a group that includes some of the biggest aerospace and defense companies in the world, have downplayed such concerns. They have noted that apart from some of the obvious law enforcement purposes, drones can be extremely useful in other ways, including traffic management, crop monitoring, land management, news reporting and real estate sales.


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