• October 4, 2023


If you are planning on getting or giving a drone over the holidays, you may want to educate yourself on the issue, because its not as ‘benign’ a gift/issue as you may think.

Recently drones have become the latest techy item of interest and the latest target of privacy invasion by others. The government has also weighed in, as you knew they would, but as yet they remain squishy on the topic.

In February of this year the FAA released a set of rules, regulating a short list of logistical activity, that did not seem to address the privacy issue, but rather flight patterns and unit specs.

NPR.org: In short, the proposed rules that have been a decade in the making would limit drones weighing no more than 55 lbs to flying no more than 100 mph at an altitude no higher than 500 feet. The FAA would ban their use at night and near airports. And, they could be operated only by someone with a certification who keeps the vehicle “in line of sight” at all times.

The FAA also will require anyone using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for commercial purposes to obtain a special pilot certification to operate them. . . .

. . . Reuters, quoting industry experts, calls the new rules “relatively benign.”

However, while the Feds may believe it’s a ‘benign’ issue, the general public is getting the heebie-jeebies over the idea. In a community St. Louis paper, main street America is raising questions regarding privacy.

WestNewsMagazine: Meg Samson, of West St. Louis County, recently was leaving her parents’ house when she heard a buzzing noise above her head.

“I looked up and saw a drone hovering over their backyard,” Samson said. “It startled me, so I stepped back inside and told my family what I’d seen. I wasn’t upset or scared; I was more curious about whose it was and what it was doing. I didn’t like the thought of being watched or having my picture taken.’

You should now be aware if you choose to fly your drone over someone’s property, you may loose it to a shot gun blast. A Kentucky man who did so was just cleared, in October, of charges.

RT.com: A Kentucky man who shot down a drone that had been flying over his property was cleared of all charges against him because a judge ruled that the unmanned aerial vehicle had violated his privacy.

The drone operator was “shocked” to hear the verdict, while the shooter felt “vindicated.” The judge’s decision may not be final, however, as the case could go to a grand jury.

On Monday, Bullitt County District Court Judge Rebecca Ward said, “He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I’m gonna dismiss this charge,” referring to William Merideth, who was charged with wanton endangerment after firing his shotgun at David Boggs’s drone this past July in Hillview, Kentucky.

That charge was dismissed within the first 20 minutes of the case, Boggs told Ars Technica. A second charge of firing a gun within city limits was also dismissed during the hearing that lasted just over two hours.

Boggs shared the telemetry, the recorded flight data of the drone, with local media after initial news stories broke, but that information, along with the drone’s video, was not reviewed by Judge Ward. Ward instead took into account Merideth’s witnesses, two neighbors who say they saw the drone flying below trees over Merideth’s property.

“Was it handled the right way? I don’t think so, but justice came out in the end,” Merideth told WDRB.

“She didn’t care what the video said. She believed what the neighbor said and that the drone was below the tree line. The judge didn’t look at the video, paid no consideration to the video. I’m just shocked, beyond shocked. The police officers were shocked,” Boggs told Ars. “So in essence what she’s saying is that if a news helicopter flies over your house, you can shoot it down, too. There was no regard to the truth whatsoever. None.”

Data appears to show the unmanned aerial vehicle flew for under two minutes at heights reaching 272 feet when crossing over Merideth’s property. Then it abruptly crashes.

Merideth claimed his teen daughters were basking in the sun in their backyard when the drone leered near, but Boggs’ video shows a setting sun at the time of the flight. Merideth disputes whether the video provided was the actual flight in contention.

Boggs is appealing to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to bring his case to a grand jury in a civil trial.

So, whats a privacy loving American to do? Make your home, and the airspace above it into a NO-FLY-ZONE! Yep, you can register you residence as a No-Fly-Zone. NOFLYZONE.COM

Drone manufacturing companies, in an effort to be user/privacy friendly, are registering with NOFLYZONE.COM in an effort to create a data base in hopes that it establishes friendly and safe operations guidelines by users. Great idea since people may be shooting them down if they feel their privacy is being violated.

Drone manufacturers want to take a leadership position on drone privacy issues. We are forming a consortium of drone industry participants who respect individual privacy.

  • People have legitimate privacy concerns. This is why people wish to proactively establish a No Fly Zone around their property and ensure the responsible and respectful use of drones in our skies.
  • Drone manufacturers and operators want to do right. A growing number favor proactively regulating drones and minimizing their negative consequences. NoFlyZone works with them to provide valuable data about civil and military airspace, airports, hospitals, schools, private properties that have requested privacy, and other sensitive locations.
  • People want more control over their privacy. NoFlyZone empowers individuals to establish their own airspace privacy settings.
  • In the near future, NoFlyZone will offer people the ability to customize their airspace access preferences. This will be a tool to allow people to control how they will interact with drones on their property.

WestNews Magazine also reports,

Protecting privacy As for protecting one’s privacy, individuals who want to establish “no fly zones” over their properties can visit several websites, including www.noflyzone.org, to set up restricted airspace above their homes.

The companies register the home’s address and its GPS coordinates are logged into a database. Then, the companies work with drone manufacturers to prevent drones from flying over the house. The service is free but the companies do not guarantee that all drones will bypass registered properties; the GPS coordinates are only distributed to operators with whom the company has agreements.

With the holiday gift giving season upon consumers, the FAA spokesperson said it is a great time for consumers to be conscious of proper use of drones and other unmanned aircraft.

“Many retailers already have large stocks of unmanned aircraft on their shelves for this holiday season,” the spokesperson said. “This boom provides the opportunity to bring the spirit of aviation to an entirely new class of users. This opportunity, however, also poses a great challenge. Many unmanned aircraft users may not be aware they are operating in shared, and potentially busy, airspace.”

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