How Does the Era of Drones Affect Our Privacy?

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Drones are most definitely some of the best technology to come out of the decade, but how does this technological era affect our levels of privacy, and is our privacy protected from those spying eyes in the sky?

A lot of drones are used as a part of a surveillance system that can cause a major privacy concern in communities and neighborhoods all over the world. Privacy fears are justified through visual and even physical targets that a drone can help expose. This is especially worrying when we know that the market is pushing aerial photography drones for sale, and virtually anyone can buy one and use it for whatever he or she wants.

The Problem With Drones and Privacy

The main issue concerning drones and our privacy, is the fact that they can be used for anything if they have an on-board camera. They make it easier to see the layout of a store that someone may be planning on robbing, get a peek into someone’s window, or watch while someone is relaxing by his or her backyard pool.

With this in mind, a lot of people came forward with their own horror stories. For example, the father from Kentucky, who used a shotgun to shoot a drone down, that was hovering over his backyard while his teenage daughters were lounging and sunbathing.

When it comes to drones breaching personal privacy and safety, stories like this one, and ones that are much different, had been shared all over the world. While the majority of drone owners and drone users mean absolutely no harm when they are using them, accidental privacy breaches are still happening.

And it’s not always residential drone users who are breaching. For example, an officer in the United States wrote in a report that an aerial surveillance drone accidentally filmed a woman sunbathing in her backyard while it was filming a specific home.

The Federal Aviation Agency has predicted that up to 2.7 million commercial and residential unmanned aircraft systems will be sold by 2020, just within the United States. Because there is an enormous surge in sales predicted, precautions and further measures must be taken in order to protect the public’s right to privacy.

This begs the question, even if a breach of privacy was not intended, what is going to happen to ensure that our privacy is protected?

Protective Measures Against the Breach of Privacy by a Drone

At time of writing this article, there were only state laws in place in the United States that protect residents and individuals against drone users that are spying or stalking them in their homes and on their property. Unfortunately, there are no federal laws to date in place regarding this serious issue.

On March 15 of this year, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), introduced a bicameral legislation with Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.), for the purpose of establishing a safeguard to protect our privacy from both government and commercial drones. Residential drones were not included in this legislation because of the state laws that are already in place.

The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act ensures that measures will be taken to inform the public on timing, ownership and the location of unmanned aerial vehicles in the area. It requires that privacy protection provisions must be followed when collecting any form of data in an area. It also includes the disclosure and warrant requirements for state law enforcement. The minimization of use will be followed, as well.

“Drones that are flying overhead are able to collect personal, sensitive data and identifiable information on millions of Americans,” Senator Markey said. “However, we do not have enough safeguards in place to protect the privacy of everyone. Ergo, The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act had been created. It requires a domestic drone user to adhere to the privacy protection, that has been set to ensure it will not and cannot be used to spy and stalk Americans.”

Protecting the Privacy of the Public

Drones are constantly coming out with more marvelous features and functions, but they are making it easier to breach our privacy. Therefore, ensuring that state laws, the new legislation, and the basic human right of privacy are protected, is the best way to go about ensuring drones do not violate our much-needed privacy.


Jack Brown is a true drone passionate and he focused his education on this amazing field. Thus, he graduated the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and now he’s a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. His main purpose right now is to find and develop new features and help others discover the wonderful experience of flying a drone. For this, he is the main editor and content creator at MyDroneLab Blog where you can find everything you want to know about drones.

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