Sen. Dorothy Hukill, Rep. Larry Metz file bills protecting privacy from drone use

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A pair of Republican state lawmakers seek to protect the privacy of Floridians through bills that address the use of Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles, popularly known as drones.

State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, joined by Rep. Larry Metz, announced they will file bills that focus on consumer drones — lightweight devices rigged with cameras, video recorders, and night vision used to get real-time data on the public.

Currently, drones have a range of applications throughout the state: surveillance and law enforcement, traffic reporting, wildlife protection, and more. With GPS capabilities, tracking devices hidden in cars, bags or on clothing without a person’s knowledge, can provide location information to smartphone apps.

“While the sky is the limit for the future uses of drone technology,” said Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, “we want to make sure protections are in place to prevent privacy violations through the use of these evolving technologies.”

Tracking devices to reveal the location or movement of another person without consent presents a major violation of privacy and safety, Hukill added. The legislation provides exceptions for law enforcement to track individuals – with a court’s permission – as well as parents using GPS tracking for children.

As the price of drone and tracking technology drops, the lawmakers said, it becomes readily available for anyone to obtain and use, increasing the risk of privacy violations of others.

“The goal of this legislation is to prevent the abuse of tracking technology in violation of personal privacy rights while recognizing established, legitimate uses,” said Metz, a Yalaha Republican.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.