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Courts / Law

Security Expert on Round-the-Clock Drone Surveillance: 'That's Just Creepy'

Courtesy of Stetson University

This week, the Florida Senate passed the Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act, which prevents law enforcement agencies from using drones for routine surveillance. The bill, which passed quickly and unanimously, does allow for the use of unmanned aircraft in special cases, like the threat of a terrorist attack.

During a luncheon speech on drones Thursday at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, homeland security expert Michael Barton said citizens concerned about drones aren't just being paranoid.

"Certainly, drone use by law enforcement is a concern. There is a difference between being able to follow someone in a car and being able to follow them electronically," said Barton, director of energy and natural resources at ARTIS Research, a group that studies defense, cyber behavior and other topics.

"And there is a really big difference in having something about this big -- one of those little dual-blade helicopter drone things -- hovering above your backyard for four days at a time before it needs to get recharged. That's just creepy."

Barton told his audience of about 70 law students and professors that they can expect to see plenty of drone-related court cases in the future.

 "There are serious Fourth Amendment concerns with that," Barton said. "I think the court is going to look at the drones with strict scrutiny. You have not just an expectation of privacy, but you have an expectation to not be surveilled 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And as our technology grows, and as it becomes so much cheaper to hold so much data, you really get into these issues."

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