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Drones Over Florida: What Do You Think?

The state is eyeing legislation that would limit the use of unmanned drones in the skies over Florida. Is it the right move?

Imagine sitting in your living room as a government drone silently monitors your activities from the skies above. Stealthily it records the information it sees and sends it to local law enforcement – or worse yet – your homeowners’ association.

That’s an eventuality that some Florida lawmakers are trying to prevent.

With several law enforcement agencies in the state already using unmanned drones for surveillance, lawmakers fear their use will become more commonplace, infringing on the privacy rights of everyday citizens.

"These issues are about boundaries and there is a line to be drawn," State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Naples, told the Orlando Sentinel. Negron is the sponsor of the Freedom for Unwarranted Surveillance Act, which made it through a panel of senators earlier this week. "You have to draw the line somewhere and so where I draw the line is having these unmanned drones hovering in the sky and potentially visualizing hundreds of these in the air over Florida at any given moment, just surveilling law-abiding Floridians."

Law enforcement agencies in Miami and Orange County already use the unmanned aircraft for surveillance purposes. While Largo’s Raytheon makes drones and has been the site of a protest against their use, the Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough county sheriff’s offices say they do not presently use drones and have no plans to do so.

Even so, Negron fears misuse of drones in Florida if something isn’t done to limit use now. The bill he’s introduced would still allow law enforcement to use drones when a judge has issued a search warrant or if there are extreme circumstances, such as a hostage crisis. It would prohibit homeowners’ associations and code enforcement agencies from using them.

The use of drones by government agencies, especially the military, has come under fire in recent months.

Here’s what we’d like to know from you, Tampa Bay: Do you think drones have a place in law enforcement? Or is Negron right to try and limit their use here in Florida? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Maury Griffith January 18, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Negron says they are "just surveilling law-abiding Floridians". I want to know how the drones know to surveil only law-abiding Floridians and not surveil criminals.
Joe January 18, 2013 at 02:00 PM
I have to laugh when I read someone is going to shoot one of these down. Drones come in all sizes. Now figure this.....anything that government is using is so far ahead of what is available to civilian use that it would make your head spin. To give you an example.....just look at this. It's already available for civilian purchase so can you imagine what will be "USED AGAINST US". We can thank both parties going back to the Clinton administration. They are both working for the same objective, to enslave us! Take a look at this and see what is in store for all of us shortly. http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/robot-dragonfly-for-spying-gaming.asp
Michael D. January 18, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Samuel, But their Server Farms is beautifully collected.
sharon poole January 18, 2013 at 02:34 PM
These drones are being used for evil purposes. Humans cannot be trusted to use honor and integrity with these things. Their use should be banned for all purposes except to rescue people from death. They should not be used for surveillance of innocent people, or for killing innocent people. And they are being used for both. This is unconscionable.
sharon poole January 18, 2013 at 02:35 PM
You are right on, Joe.
sharon poole January 18, 2013 at 02:36 PM
I sometimes wonder if these drones are the flying scorpions mentioned in the book of Revelation.
chad redding January 18, 2013 at 03:22 PM
No I do not support limiting drones, we need as many drones as possible to help in the apprehension of criminals, especially with alarming number of sex offenders re-offending against children EVERYDAY. Also these crazy wacko drivers who hit pedestrians and keep on going,sometimes killing them,anyone who does not support drones or who wants to limit them is either committing crimes or just a paranoid loony tune
Michael D. January 18, 2013 at 03:48 PM
or the people who want the increased use of them is a paranoid loony tune for thinking that everything,everywhere is evil. It's fearmonigering either way.
James Patterson January 18, 2013 at 05:30 PM
When I read the George Orwell novel "1984" back in the day I laughed, thinking that there is no way that America could come to that point. Here I'm now in 2013, facing the possibility of being completely defenseless as giant remote control planes fly over my house and watch my family and I sleep. Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave, God help us. Our country is going to hell.
Michael D. January 18, 2013 at 05:53 PM
James, I don't know if Reagan would be rolling over in his grave. George W. Bush and a Republican Congress were the ones that signed the law which allowed this to be perfectly legal. Both parties are a part of allowing the monitoring to be legal on the American citizenship.
sharon poole January 18, 2013 at 05:59 PM
I'm not sure the dead innocent children in Pakistan would agree with your assessment, chad. But who cares about them, that's just collateral damage, right?
Flo January 18, 2013 at 06:03 PM
The senator is absolutely right. Drones should be limited. Some of you people who don't mind your privacy being invaded need to think again. EVERYONE is entitled to privacy in their own home. You may think you're a law-abiding citizen, and you may be. However, laws are being established under this current administration that you don't even know about. Freedom is being taking away chip by chip. Doors are being opened for government control. WAKE UP! Think ahead. Why oh why are we sitting back lazily and allowing the government to invade us. The political leaders, including the President, are elected to serve US and represent US......not make us their slaves. The government should be run by the people, not the people run by the government. Too much power hunger in government. Please people, start reading between the lines and study history......stop believing empty promises and stop relying on "everything will be fine", because it won't be fine if our country continues in this direction.
Bill Storck January 18, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Right On Senator Negron!!! Let the people vote on this, guarantee it won't pass unless the Senator blesses it. God Bless America
Linda January 19, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Just as long as they're spying on Republicians, it's OK with me.
Paul Russo January 19, 2013 at 12:57 AM
NO DRONES...
Dad of Three January 19, 2013 at 05:20 PM
With a court warrant, OK, but not without one.
Jerry Wayne January 20, 2013 at 08:49 AM
I agree with Senator Negron! NO DRONES over Florida, or any state for that matter.
Liberty Belle January 20, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Obama is drone crazy. He sends drones into Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia....just about everywhere and anywhere he wants. These drones can kill people and have. I can picture Obama sitting in some dark closet with a remote and playing with the buttons like a 6 yr old directing the drones. The drones are coming, they have been watching us. We have a paranoid administration who should stop running his mouth.
Liberty Belle January 20, 2013 at 12:29 PM
So those drones don't survey street thugs ? How about that ! They ain't hitting the local spots of drug dealers. They are flying over residential homes and taking Data of how you live inside your own walls.
Liberty Belle January 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM
We all need a missile defense shield in our backyards. I suppose.
Brian Maday January 20, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Negron is an IDIOT! What PURPOSE would there be in "JUST surveilling law-abiding Floridians"? Who cares WHAT they do? And does this mean that the drones would NOT look for CRIMINAL ACTIVITY? How does he propose to do that?
michael mirra January 20, 2013 at 03:53 PM
The drones are just surveiling people that are supposed to be law abiding. If they are not law abiding, the drones will discover & help law enforcement get drugs off the street that your children would have easier access to if the drones didn't catch them. It also can tell government if any malitia terrorists are playing war games in preperation to mass murder people. The Government can see a match being struck on a city street from satalite surveilence for decades. Just becases they are permitted to listen to your phone conversations since the Patriot Act doesn't mean that they weren't listening before. Wake up & smell the coffee. Your Government is watching every move you make & has been for decades. Get a grip. It is to help enforce the laws. If someone is breaking the law, then they would object. If I grow oranges & grapefruits in my back yard I don't care. If I grow pot, or have a meth lab going, I'd be worried. I want those people to worry. Who gives a crap if they ogle my wife, or girlfriend from the sky. That would just mean that they are hot. If the're hot, people would ogle them every place they go anyway.
michael mirra January 20, 2013 at 04:06 PM
What difference does it make if it's a drone that kills innocent people? We have been raining metal death on innocent people from the sky for about a century, or since avaition began. Someone mentioned the people in Pakastan kiled by a drone. What about 200 sorties a day over Bagdad in Dessert Storm? Those weren't drones. What about the innocent people we NUKED in Hiroshima & Nagasaki? Those weren't drones. We kill innocents from the skys all the time. Drones just mean no human risks their life flying the bomb delivery device. A Tomahawk missle is also a non manned bomb delivery device. Do you want our Government to eliminate our missle defense system? Drones are just another tool for Govenment to use to watch the people, sort of li8ke a parent watching a child when the child may do anything & it is imperative to keep a watch so that the child doesn't harm itself, others, or the parents.
michael mirra January 20, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Normally I would take the comment about only watching Republicans as a joke, but lately there is substance in that statement. Republicans 'may' be subversive, as their rethoric of late clearly gives just cause to suspect. Not all Republicans, just the zealots.
Walter Talley January 22, 2013 at 04:49 PM
What facts do you have that support that drones are cost-effective?
Michael D. January 22, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Walter, Well instead of paying 2 or 3 cops to cover the hours in the day you have a sunk cost of one drone. It last more than a year, it has already paid for itself.
michael mirra January 23, 2013 at 05:29 PM
I do have a don't care attitude, like Susan. What do I give a crap? If it helps keep more law breakers from their endeavors, it's no skin off my butt. If it helps the military kill more of the enemy without having to risk more American soldiers from being shot down, I'm all for it. Like the Government hasn't always been spying on you? Wake up. The government has had the ability to spy on whoever they want for decades. Whether it is, or was legal just made a difference whether they did it secretly, or not. Piloted planes kill people all the time, right or wrong. Now people don't have to risk getting shot out of the sky. One guy said he wanted to practice his long distance shooting skills. I hope he doesn't get caught downing a government plane. He might find himself in prison for a heck of a long time if his aim is good. I wonder if 10-20 years of incarceration would seem worth it?
michael mirra January 23, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Also, if they shoot it down & it land on someone's house killing someone, it would a be manslaughter, at least. Murder by careless endangerment? Let someone shoot one down & we will see what they do to the shooter.
LEL January 23, 2013 at 07:18 PM
As the President of a Homeowners Association I couldn't stop laughing over this one. Please, please let me be elected to any Board that can afford a Drone. I also loved the comment about Republicans. Yes, we are all evil, aren't we? -LEL
LT January 27, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Nova had a truly fascinating program devoted to drones. For those of you that may have missed the program here is an opportunity to better understand where we are and what the future holds. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/rise-of-the-drones.html

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