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House members take aim at drone surveillance

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A House panel Tuesday approved a bill aimed at preventing the use of aerial drones to capture images that could infringe on the privacy of property owners or occupants.

The House Civil Justice Committee voted 11-1 to support the bill (HB 649), filed by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said drones could be used, for example, to peer into homes or to take pictures of people on the balconies of high-rise condominium buildings.

"Technology is wonderful," Passidomo said. "But in the wrong hands, it can be devastating."

Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, cast the only dissenting vote, saying he is concerned the bill could put a "chilling effect" on law-enforcement agencies using drones.

A similar Senate bill (SB 766), filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, was slated to be heard later Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.