What can you do if your neighbor has put a camera on a drone and is flying it over your property to take a peek at what you're doing? Is there anything you can do to stop the invasion of your privacy? Since it's estimated that 7,500 drones could be flying the skies by 2018, this could become a serious issue.
First of all, don't shoot.
No matter how you feel about the situation, don't resort to shooting at a drone that's flying overhead, even if you're sure that it is on your property. In an incident in California, a man shot down a neighbor's drone that he believed was being used as a surveillance device. When negotiations between the neighbors over how much the owner of the drone should be reimbursed broke down, the case landed in court. The neighbor who shot the drone lost.
He was lucky he didn't get arrested and charged with a crime. A New Jersey man who shot a drone that was taking aerial photographs of his home was charged with criminal mischief and the possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
The charges could have been much worse if the FAA had elected to get involved. The FAA considers drones "aircraft" and shooting down an aircraft anywhere in the sky (even over private property) is a violation of a federal code that could result in up to twenty years in prison, plus fines.
Instead, take it to court.
The laws in most areas haven't kept up with the trends regarding drones -- yet. While a number of states have developed or begun legislation to keep the police from using drones to conduct surveillance on private citizens, most states haven't addressed spying that goes on by private individuals. Idaho is the first state to respond with legislation that specifically prohibits the use of drones by private individuals to spy on others.
Since the laws aren't yet developed in most states, you can resort to civil court. Spying, by drone or otherwise, is considered an intrusion of solitude, or your right to personal privacy. That's a type of personal injury.
Your odds of being successful in an invasion of privacy suit may depend on whether you can prove that you were being spied upon. If you can, you will probably have the sympathies of the jury on your side. A recent poll indicates that the majority of people (64%) dislike the idea of their neighbors even having a drone. An even greater number of people (71%) think drones shouldn't be allowed to operate over other people's private property.
If you spot a drone flying over your property and you believe that your privacy is being invaded, don't grab a shotgun. Grab a camera. If possible, take film of the drone as it flies so that you can show how often it is flying over your property and what it is doing. If it looks like a camera is attached to the drone, try to get a clear photo of the camera. These can be used to prove your case in court.
Make sure that you document any conversations that you have with the operator of the drone. If you speak with the operator in person, remain civil and take somebody with you as a witness who can testify to the conversation.
For more information, consult with your attorney as soon as possible.Share
28 October 2015
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