Drone photography, surveillance will be limited in Florida under new law

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If you happen to own your own drone to take photos of other Floridians on their property, you better stop it soon — unless you want to get sued.

That’s because today Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 766. The bill states that drones cannot be used to photograph or record images of people or their property from the air. The restrictions would also apply to state and local governments.

The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Port Orange Republican Dorothy Hukill. It allows victims of drone surveillance to sue for damages and covers all kinds of remotely controlled or automated unmanned aircraft, whether they are the size of a mosquito or a small airplane. The measure includes several exceptions where drones could still be used, including utility companies and property appraisers.

In 2013, Florida became one of the first states in the country to pass legislation limiting the use of drones by law enforcement. That law only allows law enforcement agencies to use drones to collect “evidence or information” if they have a warrant, with just a few exceptions.

At least 13 states already have enacted laws addressing drones, and another 10 are considering legislation this year.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]