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Suffolk lawmakers out of focus on beach drones

Surfcasters fish for striped bass under the Montauk

Surfcasters fish for striped bass under the Montauk Lighthouse in Montauk, Oct. 9, 2014. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Don't worry, beachgoers. Suffolk County lawmakers want to make sure drones can't violate your nonexistent privacy in the most public spaces of all.

Legislators are drawing the line at camera-bearing drones, but cameras in cellphones? Snap away. Video cams? Roll all you want. A GoPro attached to a kite? Perfectly legal.

There is no logic to the Suffolk Legislature's overwhelming approval to ban all camera-equipped drones over county beaches from Amityville to Montauk and Huntington to Orient Point during the summer.

And for drones that may buzz county facilities and parks, you would need permission from the public works commissioner and a parks department permit, respectively.

Clearly these no-fly zones mean one thing -- county legislators don't want anyone eavesdropping on their brilliant ideas.

Legislators Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) were the only two against the measure, arguing that people in itsy bitsy bathing suits aren't exactly expecting anonymity. Besides, there's no point in getting a beach bod if a camera can't capture it.

Lawmakers who supported the ban said it would deter hobbyists and private film entrepreneurs. There are safety concerns that drone operators must be aware of, but lawmakers shouldn't ruin the fun for everyone else.

County Executive Steve Bellone has 30 days to decide whether to sign the bill. If he takes all his time, the summer will be over and the issue about this bill will be moot. But surely he realizes that banning drones in public places hovers close to being unconstitutional.