How lawmakers aim to protect you from a drone invasion

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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Lately, drones seem to be everywhere. They’re monitoring endangered wildlife, launching missiles, mapping rainforests, and filming athletes. They can fly high above a neighborhood or just hover outside a bedroom window. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has already built robotic fliers not much larger than an insect; once batteries become small enough, they may become quite literally a fly on the wall. The opportunities—and potential violations of privacy—seem endless. But current and new laws may offer some protection.In the United States, the Supreme Court has concluded that nobody owns the airways and anyone can take pictures in public. As a result, citizens have been convicted of growing marijuana in their own backyards based on naked-eye observations made from planes flying overhead in “public navigable airspace.” On the other hand, a newly proposed law in California would make it illegal for paparazzi to use drones to snap pictures of celebrities on their own property.Existing laws also ban a peeping Tom from setting up in a tree at the edge of your property and peering into your bathroom window with binoculars; the same laws are likely to extend to flying a drone outside the same window. The Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens inside their homes from unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant, may shield Americans from miniature government drones searching for illicit substances. But the extent of the protection will likely hinge on the finer points of the law. The Federal Aviation Administration is now producing new regulations for unmanned aircraft systems that will limit when and where commercial drones can fly; these may also help protect privacy in some cases. Many other countries, too, are debating how to balance privacy and freedom as drones proliferate.Creepy as it is to be watched from aircraft controlled by others, drones are hardly privacy worry No. 1, says John Villasenor, a policy analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., because there are ways to collect far more information easily. “Drone privacy is a legitimate concern,” Villasenor says. “But there are other technologies, such as mobile phones and the use of data gathered by mobile apps running on those phones, that, for me at least, raise far more pressing privacy issues.”For more on privacy and to take a quiz on your own privacy IQ, see “The end of privacy” special section in this week’s issue of  Science.last_img read more