How Low Can Drones Go?

from the question-questions-questions dept

As we've pointed out in a few stories, drones aren't necessarily something to worry about. Like any technology, they can be used for good and bad purposes, and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. But determining where exactly the line between acceptable and unacceptable lies is tricky, as the following story from the Capitol Hill Seattle blog shows:

This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day.
So how close does a drone have to be to someone's home before it becomes intrusive? Clearly, at some height the air is part of the sky commons that belongs to everyone, as a famous 1946 US Supreme Court decision laid down:
The air is a public highway, as Congress has declared. Were that not true, every transcontinental flight would subject the operator to countless trespass suits. Common sense revolts at the idea.

The post continues:

After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing "research". We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.
Those sound like reasonable concerns. So does that mean that drones with cameras need to fly further away from the property of others than those without, so that the images they capture don't invade people's privacy? How might we set that distance? These and related questions are starting to be posed more frequently, as more drones enter our skies. At some point, we will need to start coming up with some answers that most people find reasonable.

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:01am

    Skycrime

    If it's OK for him to fly his toy around above your garden it's got to be OK for you to fly yours.

    I'd suggest taking an interest in air rifles, water fights or just throwing rocks. After all his drone has no more right to be there than anything else and is quite a bit more fragile.

     

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  2.  
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    Beech, May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:08am

    legality

    I would insist that it is lerfectly legal for me to spray my hose around my yard, and if there happens to be a drone there, oops. Then when the drone is on the ground shorted out refuse to allow him on your property to recover it. Tell him it is perfectly legal to defend your property against trespassers.

     

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  3.  
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    horse with no name, May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:14am

    Interesting question

    I live in a very tall building, and we are near a flight path for helicopters to the airport. Often, they fly by about 500 feet out, and low enough that I can read the tops of them clearly. So the question isn't just height, but "height over".

    You could also look at New York and their "air rights" over buildings. Another issue?

     

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  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:16am

    It's not that hard

    Any drone that invades my space is getting shot down.

     

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  5.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:28am

    Re: It's not that hard

    Wouldn't even need a gun, just a simple high powered water hose would do the trick.

    Even better a hose would make for a good 'rule of thumb' way to determine if it's too close, as if you can hit it with a stream of water, then I'd say it's fair game.

     

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  6.  
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    Bt Garner (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:38am

    I don't see how this is any different that trees and such. For example, if a neighbor has a tree in his yard but its branches stretch into my yard, I am entitled to prune those branches so that they do not damage my house. Even if I just find those branches to be a nuisance, I can still prune them. I believe the same policy would apply here. If you are damaging my property, or begin a nuisance, you should be entitled to correct the problem.

    I would think a can of spray epoxy would be enough to take care of the problem.

     

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  7.  
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    me, May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:48am

    legality vs voyeurism

    1)I think there'a an argument for tresspassing a/or voyeuerism here as described.

    2)I agree with the option of it having an accident during it's incursion.

     

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  8.  
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    me, May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:48am

    legality vs voyeurism

    1)I think there'a an argument for tresspassing a/or voyeuerism here as described.

    2)I agree with the option of it having an accident during it's incursion.

     

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  9.  
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    Corwin (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:51am

    privacy's dead

    get over it.


    Now if only all surveillance equipment could store everything forever, and make it absolutely transparently public, that would change the world for the better.

    Because the data that models my whole life is worth less than the combined value of everyone else's, and NO sane human can say that theirs is.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 4:57am

    Aerial Curtilage: You heard It Here first.

     

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  11.  
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    twilightfog, May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:34am

    Re: Re: It's not that hard

    Maybe Intellectual Ventures can invent a sprinkler which can swat out drones, I'd buy it.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: It's not that hard

    If I can fire a high powered handgun into the air while screaming at a drone in my front yard, well, that's an America i don't want to live in.

     

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  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:37am

    Well, at least there's some resistance here to spying.

    But none have a practicable boundary, let alone solution.

    Definition of intrustion can't be limited to only when above your property, let alone when the drone operator is in sight, or known. Also, shooting one down even if over your property will only lead to tangles that you don't want. -- Just ask Iran about the grief they've gotten for shooting down spying US drones. -- And the notion that you're going to mount your own constant air defense is silly.

    But there IS an easy definition of spying even in a public space, and that's when stopped or practically so to focus on one location; applies to people, Google Glass, or drones.

    Passing by might be okay (unless spying is the only purpose, as Google Streetview), but when stopped to ogle, it crosses over the creepy line. (And for the nit-pickers, that can be stretched when a public event, such as police arresting someone, but Google Glass in constant operation at a cocktail party, or a drone hovering in residential area has to be considered firmly out of bounds.)

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:43am

    Why is it OK for governments to spy on my every move but the minute I spy on my hot neighbour in the shower, I am labelled a 'pervert'?

     

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  15.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Re: Skycrime

    If I can bring it down then it is too close to my property.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Sounds like a peeking Tom to me rather then a burglar doing research for a future crime.

    Also, people not all machinery will short circuit if you spray it with water. Some of them are build to be water proof, by preventing water from getting on the inside where it does the actual damage.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:50am

    Re:

    Possibly, want to bet the guy and his remote are waterproof too?

     

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  18.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:57am

    Re:

    Yeah, having something hovering in the yard, looking through a window of a house via camera... he calls it 'research', I'd call it voyeurism, no different than if he'd sneaked up and peeked through the windows directly.

    The 'spray it with water' idea isn't so much frying the circuits, as it is 'knocking it out of the air with the water pressure by throwing it off balance'.

     

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  19.  
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    Andreas (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:07am

    30 year old debate...

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085255/ watch it, awesome movie.

     

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  20.  
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    Andreas (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re:

    reminds me of the malcolm in the middle episode where they build robots, and Hal introduces killerbees to attack the guy at the remote.

     

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  21.  
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    Beech, May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:27am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Silly string it is then!

     

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  22.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:32am

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Dang, now you've got me imagining a little remote controlled chopper with an attached can of silly string, used as a 'electronic peeping tom deterrent' to knock other flyers out of the sky...

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:40am

    "So does that mean that drones with cameras need to fly further away from the property of others than those without, so that the images they capture don't invade people's privacy?"

    And how far away is that given that satellites can take pictures so detail that you can read a newspaper from space.

     

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  24.  
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    Spodula, May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:42am

    According to..

    According to Wikipedia, admittedly, not the best source, but a good start....

    In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the sole authority to control all airspace, exclusively determining the rules and requirements for its use. Typically, in the "Uncontrolled" category of airspace, any pilot can fly any aircraft as low as he or she wants, subject to the requirement of maintaining a 500-foot (150 m) distance from people and man-made structures except for purposes of takeoff and landing, and not causing any hazard.

     

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  25.  
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    Rob, May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Peeping Tom

    I assume that most localities have "Peeping Tom" laws like we've got in my town. This case isn't different in principle than if the guy were using other technology to look in the windows. Like a 20 foot stepladder. Or a periscope.

    I think the appropriate response is to call the cops, report a peeping tom, let him do some research in the municipal court system.

    For that matter, use of hobby R/C aircraft is also restricted to certain areas in some cities/towns/hamlets/etc. If there were such a law where the incident occurred, I see no reason it wouldn't cover a "drone", "drone" being just a particular kind of R/C aircraft. Again, the pilot could "research" this possibility in the municipal court setting as well.

    But the "garden hose" solutions proposed in other posts also sound satisfying.

    Administering an "ass whoopin'", "ass kickin'", "beat down" or other euphemism for assault and battery cannot be condoned for legal and safety reasons. A citizen would have to make their own judgement call if they could win the physical and legal fight if that were the approach used.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:48am

    In regards to camera-equipped drones, flight-height limitations are useless. A sufficiently powerful camera will still be able to get a good look at your property with lots of detail.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re:

    Gearboxes and rotors do not like the hammer effect of cutting a solid jet of water either.

     

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  28.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Precedents.

    Here is some material I dug up. The situation is pretty well undefined. The Federal Air Regulations are mostly concerned with safety. They offer clear directives for fixed-wing aircraft, but they are seriously unhelpful for helicopters. In particular, they don't make a distinction between flying low with the intention to land, and flying low with the intention to pass over.
    =========================================================
    FLORIDA v. RILEY, 488 U.S. 445 (1989), 488 U.S. 445, a case where a police helicopter observed cannabis.

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=488&invol=445

    "Any member of the public could legally have been flying over Riley's property in a helicopter at the altitude of 400 feet and could have observed Riley's greenhouse. The police officer did no more." "Neither is there any intimation here that the helicopter interfered with respondent's normal use of the greenhouse or of other parts of the curtilage. As far as this record reveals, no intimate details connected with the use of the home or curtilage were observed, and there was no undue noise, and no wind, dust, or threat of injury. In these circumstances, there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment."

    ------------------------------------------------------

    JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom JUSTICE MARSHALL and JUSTICE STEVENS join, dissenting.

    "If so, I think we could take judicial notice that, while there may be an occasional privately owned helicopter that flies over populated areas at an altitude of 400 feet, such flights are a rarity and are almost entirely limited to approaching or leaving airports or to reporting traffic congestion near major roadways. And, as the concurrence agrees, ante, at 455, the extent of police surveillance traffic cannot serve as a bootstrap to demonstrate public use of the airspace."
    ===============================================================================
    http:// www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/doe/o5632_7/o5632_7_c5_1.htm

    Department of Energy Flight guidelines for security helicopters:

    " g. Altitude Considerations.

    (1) Routine Training and Operations.

    (a) Daylight Operations. Aircraft shall maintain a minimum
    altitude of 200 feet above any known obstacle within 500
    feet either side of the planned route of flight during
    daylight operations except for takeoff, approach, and
    landing.

    (b) Night and Night Vision Goggle Operations. Except for
    takeoff, approach, and landing, aircraft shall maintain a
    minimum altitude of 500 feet above ground level or 200
    feet above the highest obstacle within 1,000 feet either
    side of the planned flight route, whichever is higher.
    When using night vision goggles, aircraft shall maintain
    a minimum altitude of 300 feet above ground level or 200
    feet above the highest obstacle within 1,000 feet of the
    planned route of flight, whichever is higher.

    (2) Hazard Mapping. Each aircraft shall be equipped with a map
    displaying all identifiable hazards to flight within the
    operating area. A map displaying all identifiable hazards to
    flight and depicting elevation above ground level shall be
    conspicuously posted in the mission planning area. Aircraft
    maps and mission planning area maps shall be reviewed for
    currency at least every 30 days and marked with the current
    date.

    h. Terrain Flight (Nap of the Earth, Contour and Low Level). There
    are three modes of terrain flight: contour, low level, and nap, of
    the earth. Terrain flight is flight at 200 feet or less above the
    highest obstacle on the intended flight path. Terrain flight and
    night vision device/goggle flight are essential to DOE tactical and
    security needs. Low level or, contour flight may provide a
    tactical advantage in a security emergency. Nap of the earth
    flight is not essential to the Department's security needs and will
    not be performed.

    (1) Contour flight conforms with the contours of the earth and is
    characterized by varying airspeeds and altitudes. Contour
    flight altitudes are not less than 25 feet above the highest
    obstacle.

    (2) Low level flight is not less than 100 feet above the highest
    obstacle. It is conducted at a selected altitude and
    generally conforms to a predetermined course, with constant
    airspeed.

    (3) Nap of the earth flight is characterized by maneuvers as close
    to the earth's surface as vegetation, obstacles, or ambient
    light will permit."
    ====================================================================
    http://amablog.model aircraft.org/amagov/2012/02/15/president-signs-faa-bill-includes-protection-for-model-aviation/

    = ====================================================================

    http://www.ar15.com/archive/ topic.html?b=1&f=147&t=1152754
    ===========================================================
    http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=32597

    Reference to: National Parks Overflights Act

    http://nature.nps.gov/sound/policy.cfm

    http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_of fices/arc/programs/air_tour_management_plan/documents/npatm_act136.pdf
    defines a control zone, below 5000 ft. above ground level, in which regulation of air tour operators may take place.

    specific prohibition on flying lower than 2000 ft above the rim in Yosemite
    ===========================================================

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: Skycrime

    Yep. Same thing with errant baseballs or Frisbees: in my yard, IT'S MINE NOW!

     

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  30.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Re: privacy's dead

    It's a whole lot more valuable to me! I couldn't care less about what my neighbor writes in his/hers e-mails, but it is extremely important for me to know that no one reads mine.

     

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  31.  
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    justok (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:31am

    If

    If they go below ground level, they are boring.

     

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  32.  
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    AB (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    But they have a much harder time getting a clear view through a window. Only a drone can do that effectively.

     

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  33.  
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    AB (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re: According to..

    Do drones qualify as 'aircraft', and do we want them to?

    I think a simpler solution would be to expand property lines to include a bubble 50 or 100 feet above the ground making it possible to trespass even while hovering above the ground. Then simple trespass laws take it from there. Including the property owner's option to permit or deny entry as desired, and the ability of authorities to override those limits if needed.

    It's a matter of respect as much as anything else. Like anyone else they are welcome to take pictures from the roadway, but not from the window ledge.

     

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  34.  
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    Titania Bonham-Smythe (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:48am

    I don't get this...

    If someone hovered a drone outside my bedroom window I'd knock their block off!

     

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  35.  
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    AB (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: According to..

    And, yes, that would restrict low flying drones to following the roadways which is a perfectly reasonable limitation which does not interfere with their usefulness.

     

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  36.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:54am

    I was about to complain about drones being too low but then I took a drone to the knee.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: I don't get this...

    So would most people.

    I'm actually amazed this guy got away without a broken jaw. Personally if I saw a drone flying low enough to peek in my windows and I knew where the guy was, I would take a picture of the drone, picture of the guy, and then bring the drone to the ground and see if I can collect footage from it (most of the camera on-board also do on-board recording). So if the guy goes to the police, I have proof he was using it maliciously.

     

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  38.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Well, at least there's some resistance here to spying.

    You were so close to being logical, but you just had to drop it to make jabs at Google.

    Now if we ignore your constant, insane ravings against Google, you're right. We already have laws that could cover this, and laws against destroying things that happen to be flying over your house.

    Added bonus: when I read this story a few days ago, that article went out of it's way to mention the drone's camera was pointed in the window. That runs afoul of laws that even cover cameras not on your property.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re: privacy's dead

    The problem in this instance of privacy is there still is a (quite) reasonable expectation of privacy in one's own house. You shouldn't be expected to have someone filming you without your knowledge in your own house.

    In my opinion, any "drone" that points a recording device within range to get a decently clear picture or video should be considered trespassing. The problem is when technolgy keeps improving, that may turn from 50 ft to 500 ft pretty quickly....

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Re: privacy's dead

    Now if only all surveillance equipment could store everything forever, and make it absolutely transparently public, that would change the world for the better.

    Because the data that models my whole life is worth less than the combined value of everyone else's, and NO sane human can say that theirs is.


    If the parties were on an equal footing, you might well be right. As things stand, private individuals may end up made of glass, while important government agencies stay pretty smoky.

     

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  41.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:38am

    A good overview

     

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  42.  
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    Spointman (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:44am

    Re: 30 year old debate...

    That links to a movie called "Blue Thunder" for those who don't feel like clicking through. :)

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:46am

    I think the rational solution is to build your own anti-drone drone. Possible attachments to include tazers, water cannons,
    silly sting and more!

    Better yet think of all the innovation it would cause via patents with the words "from a drone" at the end. Hell you could even film it and patent the business model for selling the films to double down on innovation!

     

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  44.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:48am

    Water Blasts are nice, but...

    .

    A blast of water is nice but could prompt this very rude hobbyist to get angry and take a swing at you.

    Being a FPV(First Person Video) MULTICOPTER (Not DRONE, please!) hobbyist and pilot myself I can tell you that while the control signals from the transmitter are fairly secure 2.4 gigahertz band frequency hopping transmissions, the video transmissions from the copter to the Pilot's video goggles are simple FM (Frequency modulation) signals and are subject to jamming with a stronger signal. I can also tell you that the video is either on the 900mhz band or the 5.8 gigahertz band and more likely the latter.

    The next time he shows up, send someone else down to ask interested party questions to get more technical information about his video link frequency. Then buy a 600mW transmitter you need. It will cost under $100. Buy a "board camera" too for $30. Install this setup near a window with the camera focused on a small sign that sends a "very special message" to your pest hobbyist.

    Personally, I'd like to apologize to everyone about this guy. Virtually all of us FPV guys are just out having fun flying our model aircraft and are not interested in invading anyone's privacy. Please don't lump us in with this jerk.

    .

     

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  45.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:49am

    Re: Precedents.

    Note that the Department of Energy guidelines quoted in my previous comment distinguish between "Normal Flying" and "Terrain Flying." Normal flying is 200-300 feet above the ground or above a nearby obstacle. There is an exception made for landings and take-offs. Nap of the Earth flying is basically justified in military situations, ie., when flying in against machine guns, and trying to go low enough not to be hit. That is the business of Army Aviation, not of civilian government pilots. The next two stops up are 25 ft above the nearest obstacle, and 100 ft, ditto. Both of these are considered risky by definition. Note also that the National Parks Overflights Act claims quite substantial minimum altitudes, in a case where landing is not permitted.

     

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  46.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Re: 50 year old debate...

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047396/ watch it, even more awesome movie.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    Pressure washer @ about 2800psi would do the trick.

     

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  48.  
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    out_of the_blow_and_into_AJ's_asscrack, May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:03am

    okay, I finally see the privacy issues involved with a googular glass type device

    But it involves other tech in addition to the googular glass type device, as just pointing them at random people at a party is no big deal to me.

    As for drones looking in windows, that is no different from some clown with his pud in his hand peaking through your window whilst they crouch in the bushes.

     

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  49.  
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    Niall (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re: It's not that hard

    I think this being 'MURICA, SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) would be perfectly acceptable.

    Just try to keep the warhead level down.

    And remember, if it gets one inch out of your yard, your neighbour might deploy his Super-Targetted Anti-Random Whack-A-Robot System.

     

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  50.  
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    Beech, May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:20am

    Re: Water Blasts are nice, but...

    Soundsike a costly and convoluted method. I would like it a lot more if we could see the video the drone was sending, then transmit it back at a slight delay with frequent pauses. Make the guy think his toy isnt flying right, or responding sluggishly. Bonus points if you make him crash it into a pool, then claim ownership under maritime salvage laws.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re: According to..

    500 feet from any person or building sounds good. That would mean they'd either have to be 500 feet in the air, 500 feet to the side at ground level, or something like 350 in the air and 350 to the side. That's far enough away that it doesn't feel like someone is invading your space.

     

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  52.  
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    justok (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re:

    At least you didn't suffer the pain of da feet.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:53am

    It probably legal to use a drone with a camera in a residential area, except when you film the going ons in someone house, they ask you to stop and you keep doing it, the way this guy did.

     

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  54.  
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    artp (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 9:56am

    Re: Precedents.

    Hot air balloons.

    They are mostly seen serenely floating high in the sky. But they have to take off and land without any control of which direction they are going. And when they get in a competition, all bets are off.

    If a hot air balloon gets above the tree line, the wind takes them where it wants to - same with terrain. I have seen a hot air balloon going up a ravine with half the air bag showing and none of the gondola. The same balloon was following a cow that was running for her life, kicking up her heels over rough terrain, with the occupants shouting "Nice cow! It's OK, cow!"

    I have a friend who had an electric fence knocked over by a hot air balloon. He had to put things back to rights before his cattle got out.

    But hot air balloons, as well as Bambizilla, have great public images. It's like attacking motherhood and apple pie if you complain about them.

    To the commenters who wanted to shoot the drone and beat up the operator, it's a natural reaction. Resist it with everything you've got. Assault is based on what the other person perceives, not on what you do. And if you get charged, then your property is at risk. It's entirely backwards, but so is much of the US legal scenery.

     

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  55.  
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    Richard (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Precedents.

    In the UK the CAA rules state that model aircraft (i.e. drones) must not be flown:

    f) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft;

     

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  56.  
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    Richard (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 10:57am

    Re: Water Blasts are nice, but...

    In the UK you can just report him to the CAA - he is breaking the law by flying too close to a structure that is not under his control.

    In the UK you are not allowed to fly within 50 metres of someone else's house.

     

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  57.  
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    slick8086, May 22nd, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Texas is already going crazy over this with H.B. No. 912


    http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/83R/billtext/html/HB00912I.htm

     

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  58.  
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    btr1701 (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Drones

    > Clearly, at some height the air is part of
    > the sky commons that belongs to everyone,
    > as a famous 1946 US Supreme Court decision
    > laid down

    Yes, most states have set minimum altitude limits for aircraft, which allow for normal aviation, but also protect the rights of private property owners.

    Basically, anything below the statutory altitude becomes a trespass. It's why paparazzi and news helicopters in Los Angeles have to stay way up there when covering everything from celebrity weddings to Lindsay Lohan's latest trek to the courthouse. They can zoom in with their cameras all they like, but the aircraft has to remain above 3000 feet (if I recall the number correctly).

    I can't imagine that the State of Washington doesn't have some similar law, which would clearly make this drone flyer a trespasser. Even if they don't, the homeowner is certainly free to knock the thing out of the air with a baseball bat...

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 11:58am

    Re: Skycrime

    Back when airplanes were a new thing, farmers used to shoot at them with their shotguns according to the same kind of logic you employ here.

     

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  60.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Water Blasts are nice, but...

    .

    A matching receiver typically comes with the transmitter. Once again, both for less than $100. You could attach a USB Video capture dongle to the receiver and record some of his flight video on a notebook PC, then loop it back to him via your more powerful transmitter. This would likely confuse him enough to end the flight quickly in a crash. But work fast, his flight will typically last only 8 to 12 minutes.

    .

     

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  61.  
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    AB (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: According to..

    Right now they have very little societal value so that would be fine, but there are a lot of potentially valuable uses for drones (using them for deliveries, home security systems, etc.) which will continue to emerge as the technology advances. Do we really want to eliminate that value? Especially since that won't stop the bad guys.

     

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  62.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: According to..

    There's lots of potential uses for them beyond spyware, so I hope there isn't a kneejerk reaction against the whole concept.

    If anything, I think companies will push the other way, for rapid adoption, and then we'll have to figure out how to keep them from constantly colliding with each other. But I suppose if the drones all have monitors, they can navigate through lower airspace full of flying objects.

     

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  63.  
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    Wolfy, May 22nd, 2013 @ 1:57pm

    Close your curtains. Get reflective mylar curtains to stop thermal imaging if you think you need it.

    End of story.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Claim ad coelum and shoot it down.

     

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  65.  
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    Rekrul, May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:24pm

    So how close does a drone have to be to someone's home before it becomes intrusive? Clearly, at some height the air is part of the sky commons that belongs to everyone, as a famous 1946 US Supreme Court decision laid down:

    The air is a public highway, as Congress has declared. Were that not true, every transcontinental flight would subject the operator to countless trespass suits. Common sense revolts at the idea.


    If that's true, why do you need special permits to fly model aircraft over a certain size or launch large rockets?

     

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  66.  
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    Bergman (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 12:28am

    Re: Interesting question

    It seems to me that the common sense answer would be that if you're directly above someone's land, but lower than the roof of a building on that land, you're clearly trespassing.

    If you're higher than the buildings, you're in the public highway.

    Of course, even if you're in the public highway, you might still be liable in the event of a noise complaint or for being a peeping tom.

     

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  67.  
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    Bergman (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 12:28am

    Re: Re: It's not that hard

    Silly string infused with a stronger polymer. That will bring down a drone nicely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
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    Bergman (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 12:31am

    Re:

    There are chemical solvents for many plastics, they're used for things like shaping plastic objects and welding things together all without use of heat. Splash a little on and the plastic goes soft like taffy. You can easily deliver them with a squirt gun, so long as the gun is made of a plastic the solvent has no effect on.

    Good luck trying to fly when your rotor strut is flopping around like a rubber band...

     

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  69.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, May 23rd, 2013 @ 1:32am

    Re: Drones

    The Federal Air Regulations (Part 91.79 ) specifies a minimum altitude over towns, congested areas, congregations of people, etc., for fixed wing aircraft of 1000 feet over any obstacles within 2000 feet horizontal distance. In open country, or over water, the requirement shifts to 500 altitude, or 500 feet "from any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure." The terms for helicopters are much vaguer, under the test of "hazard to persons or property."

     

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  70.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:08am

    Re: Re: Drones

    However, additional sections (Parts 91.119 [for VFR] and 91.195 [for IFR]) specify a minimum altitude for all aircraft (helicopters included) of 1000 feet above the highest obstacle within five miles, except during landing and takeoff

     

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  71.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Drones

    I hate to dribble out corrections like this, but the above items (91.119 and 91.195) apply when no other minimums are specified. In other words, they would apply to helicopters over urban areas, and it is doubtful whether they would apply to helicopters in rural/isolated areas, where fixed-wing aircraft have lower minimums.

     

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  72.  
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    btr1701 (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Drones

    Congress and the FAA could solve this problem quickly and easily. Just mandate a 1000-foot minimum altitude over private property, for all types of aircraft, regardless of whether it's urban or rural.

    That preserves both the property owner's privacy and trespass rights, while still allowing for legitimate commercial aviation activities.

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:16am

    Re: Skycrime

    I wonder how a Drone would fair against a model rocket?

     

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  74.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Drones

    Congress and the FAA could solve this problem quickly and easily. Just mandate a 1000-foot minimum altitude over private property, for all types of aircraft, regardless of whether it's urban or rural.

    That would eliminate many of the proposed uses for commercial drones, like deliveries. If drone use is going to be fully commercialized, it isn't going to happen.

     

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  75.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, May 23rd, 2013 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Drones

    To: btr1701:

    One must recognize that the basis of the Federal Air Regulations is not property, but safety. The minimum altitudes are designed to prevent crashes. Of course, they are designed to prevent "joyriding," ie. someone in a small private plane deciding he's Chuck Yeager, and forgetting that the real Yeager had the United States Air Force behind him. More mundanely, the regulations prevent people who are not instrument-qualified from trying to scoot in under clouds which are only a couple of hundred feet above the ground. A typical sort of accident runs like the following: someone without an instrument rating tried to fly through one of the passes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or the Sierra Madre/San Gabriel Mountains. Only, the cloud base was below the pass altitude that day. The pilot flew up a valley which became a canyon, and became narrower and narrower, and the ground beneath came up, and the clouds came down, to the point that he no longer had room to turn back, and he flew into a mountainside. The effect of Parts 91.119 and 91.195, is that the pilot has to quit while he still has room to turn back.

    Bear in mind that the aircraft regulations do not apply to to unlicenced consumer drones, which are considered toys. The one Federal rule which applies to them is that they are supposed to stay below 400 ft, leaving a hundred feet of separation between them and a real airplane at 500 feet or above. I believe that they are also supposed to be kept within line of sight from the operator. This seems like something which is liable to be evaded, so it could probably be improved by specifying an actual maximum horizontal distance and an altitude/distance table. And of course, make the manufacturers build these restrictions into the control system. That won't stop a hacker, but it will at least contain the idiots. I suspect that the man in Seattle qualifies as an idiot.

    As for Papparazis, I have an idea that a sophisticated camera can probably compensate for distance.

    To: Suzanne Lainson:

    I don't think the delivery-by-drone thing is going to work. For one thing, the drone has to put the parcel somewhere the recipient can retrieve it, and that probably means flying into a location where people are walking around. Practically speaking, you need to put a parcel under a porch, or in a mailbox, or wherever, where it can be protected from the elements. There are various different ways of going about it, but they are all more or less expensive, and generally more complicated than driving a truck to the recipient's door. Pilots spend a lot of time worrying about winds and clouds and rain, because an aircraft rides on the air, and the air moves. It's more like sailing a sailboat than driving a car. If United Parcel only delivered when the sky was blue, it would be a hopelessly inefficient service.

     

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  76.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Drones

    You're right that delivery by drone may not be as practical as using a truck, though there are plans to use drones to drop beer to fans at a music festival.

    Are Beer Drones the Future of Music Festivals? A Q&A With Darkwing Aerial's Dean Engela | Billboard

    I can see it being used to drop supplies in remote areas, too.

     

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  77.  
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    Orvel Sternberg (profile), Jul 7th, 2013 @ 2:58pm

    Oh for the drones!

    Who woulda thunk it? First, we have our good friends at Google doing the 'mapping' thing with their vehicles. Really didn't think much of that as it went on. Seemed kinda tame, don't you think? Then comes along drones, who have the ability to levitate over our property and easily look into out windows and back yards. Now that's a horse of a different color. Should we be paranoid over this? I don't think paranoid is probably the best word to apply to this. I'm thinking 'damn concerned' actually, especially after the comment by the man flying a drone up next to the windows, and stating that he ' has a right ' to do that. If, and I truly mean IF , we lived in a world where everyone obeyed the laws, respected each others privacy, and never used ill gotten information to harm others, THEN I would not be concerned with the drones. But that certainly is not the case. I foresee all kinds of ways that individuals and companies will use the drones to invade our privacy and use the information gained through this method to wreak havoc and criminality on society.
    There has to be some limits put on the drones.
    Anyone agree or disagree with me?

     

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  78.  
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    Mesquita, Jul 27th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    Thank you..

    For some people, energy efficient windows make sense to do now, but for everyone energy efficient windows are the only smart option if you are looking to replace windows for other reasons. Mesquita

     

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  79.  
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    Graeme Smith, Jul 29th, 2013 @ 2:06am

    "Researching".. Yea right!

    Ha... That man is quite interesting!

    & he really cracks me up by saying he was "researching"... I mean, c'mon now... Seems like he's an introvert that prefers a drone to do his dirty voyeurisms...

    How about we don't research our next door neighbours so intrusively, and just ascend into open air with on balloon flight

     

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  80.  
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    BobEngineer, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Unlicenced aircraft

    FAA does allow licensed aircraft to fly over your property. The FAA also allows remote controlled to be operated within 500 feet of operator over there own property or public property. I suggest posting your property as NO Trespassing and the next time the peeping tom camera appears photo graph it and operator and have them charged with trespass and peeping.

     

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  81.  
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    fahq, Mar 24th, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    Re: It's not that hard

    a drone with a camera over 1000ft away candoes not need to be close jackass

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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