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Drones and Surveillance

Drones are making their way into our lives.  Let’s face it privacy is not what it used to be.  Well we can fight technology or learn how to best live with it.  “It can have its benefits when it comes to law enforcement as long as it doesn’t violate reasonable expectation of privacy”, said Steve McCann of Mulholland Investigation.

Hobbyists can use them as long as they are not getting paid. A wedding photographer is not allowed to use a drone to get overhead shots of a wedding and then charge for them.

Not yet.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently designing rules to regulate how drones can fly around without interfering with regular aircraft. In our state capitals nationwide, legislatures are crafting rules on how drones can be used by individuals, corporations and public agencies – how law enforcement agencies may conduct surveillance, for example.

With aircraft, surveillance is generally allowed over open fields with unaided vision, but the use of zoom lenses or other equipment to enhance vision may require a warrant.

Silent video surveillance with no interception of oral communication is acceptable, as long as a person has no expectation of privacy. This is consistent and within the rules of standard surveillance.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the airspace above the ground, yet local authorities are the ones responsible for enforcing the law.

As state law stands, prosecutors say it does not take into account anything that might be trespassing above the ground.  Here we find the slippery slope.

A drone peeking through someone’s bedroom window likely would be committing unlawful surveillance.  But the legalities become blurred when drones simply are hovering in someone’s yard.

Is it trespassing?  How about a breach of reasonable expectation of privacy?

Until authorities get a better understanding of how personal unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, can and cannot be used, local law enforcement agencies aren’t quite sure when such devices might be breaking the law.

This is a new frontier and we want to make sure of a few things:

1)   That we’re creating regulations that don’t allow people to use unmanned aerial vehicles to infringe on others’ privacy

While at the same time

2)    Trying to balance legitimate investigation purposes.

The subject of drones will only escalate from here.  Let’s just make sure it’s being done in a way that improves our quality of life.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 31st, 2014 at 3:11 PM and is filed under blog, Featured, News & Information, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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