Just hours ago, Governor Rick Scott (shown in photo) of Florida signed into law the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, a measure strictly regulating the use of drones by law enforcement in the Sunshine State, according to a report filed by the Miami Herald.
Governor’s Scott’s signature comes just one week after the bill – SB 92 – was approved unanimously by the state House of Representatives. The state Senate had passed the bill unanimously just a week before the House.
Although the governor’s office had released no comment on the signing as of press time, an earlier statement telegraphed his intention to support the bill: "This law will ensure that the rights of Florida families are protected from the unwarranted use of drones and other unmanned aircraft,” Scott said.
Specifically, the new law forbids federal agents “from using a drone to gather evidence or other information” on citizens of Florida. Should a state citizen be the target of an unlawful search and seizure in violation of this bill, he or she would be authorized “to initiate a civil action in order to prevent or remedy” that violation.
As The New American reported earlier, the language of the law is not perfect. Section 4(a) of the bill carves out a dangerous exception to its otherwise commendable constitutional protections.
Section 4(a) authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to launch a drone over Florida (and seemingly violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”) “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization.”
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Photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott signing the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act: AP Images