Drones are becoming an issue in multiple cities as the technology becomes increasingly popular among hobbyists as a way to create videos and unique-perspective photographs. With new technology, though, comes potential abuse.
Already, multiple videos taken by drones of Yosemite Park have been posted to Youtube — so many drones have been there, in fact, that rangers have issued a public notice banning the machines from the park. Last year at Hermosa Beach, California, one mother reported to a lifeguard that a drone was hovering near her and her young daughter, taking photos of them as they tanned.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, it’s likely that there will be about 7,500 hobbyist drones flying within the next five years. “Once drones become widely used in our society, there’s going to be a lot of concern,” says Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital advocacy group. “It’s because they’re so in-your-face … It’s easy to recognize the privacy implications.”
There’s been growing concern among the public regarding how drones are used by private individuals. One South Bay man, Daniel Saulmon,regularly follows police and posts videos of everything from DUI checkpoints to traffic stops, which he claims helps monitor the police force. “My attorney told me there isn’t really much regulation on them,” says Saulmon about the drones. There is currently nothing illegal about using a drone for observation, though certain activities, such as spying on neighbors, would “raise red flags,” according to interviewed members of the LAPD.
The Washington Post points out that drones have been a problem lately for airline pilots who find the appearance of a rising drone unnerving. Although the FAA does not allow flight interference, they often have trouble tracking unregistered drones.
The National Parks Service, for its part, says it intends to ban all low-flying drones throughout the 84 million acres of land it takes care of. The NPS says that the ban is out of concern for both wildlife and visitor safety.
The FAA says that recreational drone use is usually permitted, though some federal officials hope to create a guideline of civilian drone rules within the next two years.