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  • Judge David Langham

Drones, Surveillance, and Security

Drones, Surveillance, and Security

  • 07/01/21

  • Judge David Langham

The legislative session in 2021 presented a multitude of interesting bills. Many will become law on July 1, 2021. One addresses our privacy and security, our property rights, and perhaps more. CS/CS/SB 44 is interesting. That designation means "committee substitute" for "committee substitute" for Senate Bill 44. There were multiple revisions, and this designation helps remind us that this bill evolved notably along its path from filing (12.28.20) to passage (04.28.21). The title is "[a]n act relating to the use of drones by government agencies." The tin foil hat crowd might jump to the Skynet I-told-you-sos (The Terminator, 1984). No, at least not yet. The law, section 934.50, Florida Statutes, prohibits the use of drones by law enforcement to gather "evidence or other information." SB 44 amends that with "except as provided in subsection (4)." It will now be legal for law enforcement to use drones to:

  • provide a law enforcement agency with an aerial perspective of a crowd of 50 people or more (as long as the police agency has guidelines for the use, date retention/release, and for the safety of the crowd).

  • assist a law enforcement agency with traffic management (but, the police may not issue a ticket based on drone images/data).

  • facilitate a law enforcement agency's collection of evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene.

  • assess() damage due to a flood, a wildfire, or any other natural disaster that is the subject of a state of emergency

There are also permissible uses for fire departments.

David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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