The New Horizon of Drones and Your Privacy
While so many more of us understand what a drone is today than we did even two years ago, we have yet to wrap our collective minds around the impact of drones in our own lives and the inner workings of our society. Like everything else that’s new and odd for us to see, yet then becomes commonplace, there’s going to be a massive drone adjustment period for people and we may be in it now.
For those of you who might be living on a remote island – wait, there are even drone-flying YouTube celebrities there. Okay, for any of you who actually don’t know what a drone is and can do, a drone is also known as a UAV or unmanned aerial vehicle. While drones themselves are obviously a technology, what is important about them are the other technologies a drone can house.
A drone can have GPS, lasers and many other technologies that are controlled by a user or users on the ground through ground control systems (GSC). In short, a drone can pack whatever the latest technology is. Think of James Bond’s spy shoes, except they fly, look cooler than a pair of brogues, and can easily surveil or even kill you.
Drone usage started small and is getting big. Back in 2016, there were bold predictions that drone usage would triple by 2020. The reality has exceeded that number. A report from June shows that the commercial drone market is growing fairly rapidly with no signs it will slow down:
“The drone manufacturing industry is maturing – and so are drone customers. As the capabilities of drones increase, they are used for more sophisticated and specific applications.”
While almost anyone could buy and fly a drone a few short years ago (obviously not very close to an airport or a takeoff or landing path) there are a lot more rules today than there ever have been:
- New FAA rules require all drones to be registered unless they weigh less than 0.55lbs and are used recreationally. There are two types of registration in the United States, part 107 and recreational.
- You must now mark your drone physically with the registration number.
- For business usage of a drone, FAA suggests you keep a flight log. They can request information if there is a situation they choose to investigate.
- It is now illegal to shoot down a drone even if it’s over your own property and you suspect it of recording you. Drones are protected by the NTSB as aircraft.
Tim George, an Erie, Pennsylvania lawyer, cautions us against believing we are still in the Wild, Wild West of drone flight:
“Anyone choosing to operate a drone needs to follow all registration and licensing requirements where they live. It’s important for every drone operator to remember that there might be municipal law they need to follow, as well as state and federal law. Being unaware of applicable drone laws will be no defense to criminal infractions or potential civil claims.”