New Florida Privacy Laws May Impact Drone Operators

New laws in Florida will stop freedom in the sky, at least for drone users. Drones were introduced to the general public a couple of years ago. Since then they’ve been used for a whole range of activities. Police forces use them to track of criminals. Drone enthusiasts use them to catch a bird's eye view of their neighborhood. All of this is about to change; however, as new Florida privacy laws are in place to protect the public from spying and illegal surveillance.

What Law Are We Talking About?

Specifically, we’re talking about the Freedom From Unwanted Surveillance Act. Passed in 2013, this act ensures that police can no longer use drones for surveillance purposes on the general public with just two exceptions: if a person is suspected of terrorism, or if using the drone could stop the imminent damage of property or loss of life. Recently, the Act was amended to include the use of drones by corporations and individuals and to clarify that a drone cannot under any circumstances be used to record people when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. To understand what that means, what is a reasonable expectation of privacy?

Our Right To Privacy

Sunbathing in your backyard - private property – carries a reasonable expectation of privacy. Sunbathing on a public beach does not. Whether someone is in the public view is also considered. No drone recording in your fenced backyard is allowed, but no such restrictions exist for your front garden.

Accidental Surveillance

An ambiguity exists, however, when the result of recording in a general, public area allows the identification of a person or their actions because this could count as using a drone for surveillance purposes. Recording with enough detail for that person to be recognizable is likely with sophisticated cameras so this will be a troublesome and difficult to enforce and interpret part of the law.

Tampa Privacy Law Attorneys

Our firm may be able to help if you are worried about breaching the law using your drone. As always with laws, the act isn’t entirely clear and that’s why it might be in your best interest to speak to an attorney if you are in any doubt. Remember, too, if you own a drone you are expected to register it with authorities. Registering your drone helps authorities determine what drone is being used where by your assigned unique reference number. If a drone owner is found to be criminally liable fines can be exponential, so understanding this law is critical and it is not too difficult imagine that at least some drone users will end up on the wrong side of this law.