The Logical Conclusion

Drones are here to stay.  You can go to Amazon and get your own for about $300.  And then, when it comes in the mail, you can do this:

Back in October, Alexis wrote a piece asking what rights do we have with regard to the air above our property. Walk onto someone’s lawn and you’re trespassing; fly over it in a helicopter and you’re in the clear — “the air is a public highway,” the Supreme Court declared in 1946. But what about the in-between space? Does the availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, aka UAVs) throw a wrench in the old legal understandings?

Well, here’s where the rubber meets the road for this abstract line of questioning. The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog is reporting a complaint it received from a resident in the Miller Park neighborhood. She writes:

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. 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.

The site adds, “The woman tells us she called police but they decided not to show up when the man left.”

We aren’t going to get the government to move on the drone thing until we start seeing private citizens begin to fly over private homes like this.

A funny aside?

As for the privacy concerns, one of the most important questions is what was being photographed. “If the camera on the drone was always aimed at the public street,” Villasenor writes, “then that’s very different than if it was capturing images into the home through the window.”

That’s illegal.  But this is art:

Residents in a multimillion-dollar Tribeca building are upset after learning a photographer who lives across the street has secretly been snapping pictures of them through their windows for a Chelsea art exhibit.

Photographer Arne Svenson, who lives in a second-floor apartment on Watt Street, told The New York Post his behavior does not violate his neighbors’ privacy. He compared himself to a birdwatcher.

“They are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high,” Svenson, 60, told the Post. “The neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs.”

Svenson’s photos, which do not show his subjects’ faces, are being sold for thousands of dollars each at a new exhibition called “The Neighbors” at Julie Saul Gallery.


One response to “The Logical Conclusion

  1. Ah, a brave new world! What intrigues me working with college age kids is that they are not nearly as concerned about privacy as the generation before. They figure information is out there and lots of people can access it. Not that they have no worries (identify theft is the biggest) but that their attitude is one where they assume they do not have complete privacy – and to them that’s OK.

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