While the battle rages on in Seattle about the legality of police operated surveillance drones, a local Capitol Hill family has other concerns about drones.
A resident of Miller Park reported to the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog that on one recent afternoon she spotted an aerial drone hovering outside her third-story window. Her husband went to confront the man operating the drone on their sidewalk, to no avail. She reported:
“The man insisted 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.’”
The woman, understandably, found the drone-flying dude creepy; asking the CHS Blog if anyone else has had a run in with him, or if he was just your run-of-the-mill drone-piloting, peeping tom burglar. Commenters speculated on who he was, and how they might handle the situation (slingshots and garden hoses). Ultimately, the woman told the CHS Blog that “she called the police but they decided not to show up when the man left.”
Whoever he is, the story may be far bigger than just a local weirdo who visited Brookstone. The Atlantic published an article about it questioning if the man was actually within his legal bounds. Sure, citizens have a right to privacy, but what about the Supreme Court ruling in 1946 that declared the air as a public highway? Does it change the crime if the creeper is using an unmanned drone versus hiding in the bushes?
Seattle may have killed its drone program for the time being, but it’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before we need to figure out where the legal line is for aerial property rights. In the meantime, keep your eyes on the windows and your slingshot close.