Florida restricts use of drones by law enforcement officials

In response to public concern that technological advances could threaten the privacy of citizens, Florida has passed a law restricting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, by state law enforcement officials. It's the first law of its kind in the country.

The Freedom From Unwarranted Surveillance Act requires local police to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before using a drone for surveillance purposes.

Police are only allowed to use drones without a warrant in situations where there's an imminent threat to property or life, or if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared a high risk of a terrorist attack.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law on April 25. In a statement following the Florida Senate's passage of the bill, Scott said, "This law will ensure that the rights of Florida families are protected from the unwarranted use of drones."

Several other states, including Texas, Montana, Missouri, Virginia, Nebraska and Oregon, are considering similar measures.

In February 2012, President Barack Obama signed a law permitting FAA supervision of unmanned aerial vehicles.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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