Personal Drones and Privacy: How Far Can You Go?

Drone with remote control

Drone with remote control

Drones are easily one of the coolest technologies of the modern era, but with more and more people purchasing them, where do you draw the line on where and how they’re flown?  While some may not be aware of it, in real estate law, a person’s property lines are not just set at the physical, grid coordinates (latitude/longitude lines).  A person’s land/lot extends infinitely upward (which is why a limb from a tree on your neighbor’s property cannot extend across your property line without your consent).  Yes, you own the airspace above your land/lot, with the only exceptions going to commercial and government aviation agencies.

So, what about those persons who enjoy sunbathing in their backyards?  Their privacy (on the ground) is often protected by barriers such as privacy fences, hedgerows and walls of cypress trees, but with the advent of personal drones (most of which are equipped with cameras), they are no longer protected from the prying eyes of drone pilots in their neighborhood, or elsewhere.

All this leads to my final thoughts and topic for discussion.  How do you best protect the privacy of your personal airspace?  How does one identify a personal/recreational drone from, say a commercial one (Amazon delivery or realtor doing aerial photographs for property listings), or one belonging to a government agency?  If a personal drone is flying over your yard/land (and presumably) taking video or photographs without your express permission, are you legally within your right to bring it down?  Where do we draw the line?  (I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please comment below).

God Bless and Happy Holidays!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete any comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Personal Drones and Privacy: How Far Can You Go?

  1. I’m sure there are already some laws in place about ‘bringing it down’. At least I hope so, anyway. I love the idea of delivery by drone such as what the rumors are from Amazon. But I also imagine many opportunities for theft and vandalism by trigger-happy gun-toting morons. TBH I really don’t mind them being used for surveillance to protect the public good (the drones, not the morons), but in allowing this use of the technology we soon brush up against privacy issues. As a middle-aged housewife, I doubt anyone will be zooming over my house with their telephoto lenses. This is a concern for celebrities, but as for myself I really don’t care. I’ve nothing to hide. If that were to happen, I guess I’d do what I do when boaters and fishermen come into my cove while I’m outside sunbathing – wave hello, or go inside, or both.

    • Thanks for sharing that opinion Lissa! It’s easy for we authors/journalists to have a one-sided opinion (in my case, one of someone who doesn’t sunbathe, but who has gone outside in my boxer shorts to take out the trash a time or two). More reason why dialogue is so important. Again, thank you for your response! ?