The new Florida drone privacy law could have some unintended consequences for insurers looking to use or insure unmanned aircraft systems (UAM) technology.
The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act (FUSA), which took effect in Florida July 1, prohibits a person, state agency or political subdivision from using a drone to capture an image of privately owned property or those on the property – including an owner, occupant or invitee – with the intent to conduct surveillance.
The law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in May, further requires that those using drone technology in such a manner must have written consent from the people on the property under surveillance if a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.
The law applies to law enforcement and private individuals and was intended to go along with Florida’s 2013 law that requires police to obtain a warrant to use drones to collect evidence, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
The new FUSA law does allow exceptions for the use of a drone by a person or entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state in certain circumstances. However, this exception does not apply to a profession in which the authorized scope of practice includes obtaining information about the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation, or character of any society, person or group of persons.
One of the most important stipulations of the law is that individuals who feel their privacy has been violated under the terms of the law may now sue for civil damages and injunctive relief and be awarded attorneys’ fees if they are successful.
That could end up being costly, says Matt Grosack, a Miami-based attorney with DLA Piper.
“There are a lot of litigators out there that predict this could inspire a new wave of litigation,” he says.