Tallahassee, FL (WFLA) – A new law that takes effect today aimed at regulating drones when it comes to people’s privacy, may have some issues. The law states it is unlawful to use a drone to ‘capture an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance without his or her written consent.’
Carol LoCicero is a Tampa attorney and legal expert and points to a recent case in Tampa where a drone followed a woman and crashed into her car. Police were called, but did not make an arrest. “In a recent case in downtown Tampa, where a drone was nabbed by law enforcement, nobody knows who was operating the drone.” Said LoCicero. “You have to have a suspect to prosecute before you can enforce a law from a practical standpoint.”
Bert Seither is a drone operator and hobbyist, and he’s concerned this law could make him a target. “I’m hoping that citizens as well as law enforcement is educated about this new law,” said Seither. “And will treat hobbyists, drone fliers like myself who are abiding by the law with the respect and courtesy that we deserve.” In a recent case, Seither was operating his drone in his backyard when a neighbor called the sheriff’s office. A deputy responded, wrote a report and told Seither if it was flying over his backyard, he would shoot it down. Seither hopes this new law doesn’t lead to other unpleasant interactions like that one.
Law enforcement agencies are still figuring out how this law will be enforced, several saying the way the law is worded makes it a civil matter. That means an officer may respond to a call and write a report, but won’t necessarily make an arrest. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office issued this statement: If someone reports a drone flying over their property to us, a deputy will investigate and take the appropriate action.