Tallahassee, Florida -- Gov. Rick Scott says he will sign a bill that curtails the use of police drones.
The Florida House and Senate have both unanimously approved the legislation. It prohibits police from using drones for routine surveillance, but there are some exceptions.
Police could use drones to investigate national emergencies, survey forest fires, or prevent threats to a person or property, as long as they got a search warrant.
Bill sponsor Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, says he wants to make sure rapidly evolving technology is not used to violate people's privacy rights.
He compares the legislation to phone tapping laws passed 40 years ago.
"Drones are a new technology, much like phone tapping was way back then, and we don't want that to enable police forces, even with the right intentions, to spy on your neighbor or spy on you in your back yard. You can't go searching neighborhoods where you think there might be a crime without suspicion and looking in people's windows. That's not the America we live in."
Workman says the bill includes reasonable exceptions.
"We want to make sure that we have drones available, they're not sitting on a shelf when a young person has been kidnapped or when there's a national emergency or a forest fire, we want to make sure they can put them in the air. But the bill protects against using a tragedy like that as an excuse to spy on your neighbor. So we want to make sure there's a nice wide, but well-controlled window in which they can be used."
The technology of advanced drones used by the military allows soldiers to track objects from 65 miles away.
Rep. Workman says Florida is the first state in the nation to create a law restricting the use of police drones.