Privacy and Drones

When it comes to drones and privacy laws, the laws are still transitioning. So, should you be concerned about the potential surveillance technology that is hovering in your yard?


Awareness is key to safely securing your perimeter, so yes, be concerned if a drone is frequenting your airspace. But more importantly, be aware and be proactive.


The Present


Professional flight operators are aware of current regulations, but if you are a drone hobbyist, it is also your responsibility to know the law and abide by it. Fines can be hefty for violations and there may be additional legal issues if capturing unauthorized media with a drone. In 2014, the National Park Service issued a drone ban to the general public and many state parks are following suite.


FAA restrictions prohibit civilian drones from flying above 400 feet, flying over people or flying beyond the operator’s range of vision. Drone hobbyists, industry professionals, event fundraisers and educators use civilian drones for various reasons.


Summit Drones CEO Kevin Barba offers the company take on drone security. “Safety and privacy are always a concern, especially when flying over a large crowd or public event. We do not recommend anyone flying over crowds without permission from authorities, not only is it dangerous, but it is also illegal. This is why it is always best to hire operators with extensive knowledge and understanding of FAA regulations and local laws.”


Here are some important questions that a knowledgeable drone operator should be able to answer…


Can I see your drone registration, proof of insurance and the Part 107 license from the FAA? 

What class airspace are you flying in and what exactly does that mean? 

What are the limitations of your equipment? 

Are there any restrictions in this area or any reason why you should not fly in this area?

Are our guests in any immediate danger? 

What precautions have you taken to minimize risks? 

Have you received permission from local authorities to operate here? 



Amazon has already begun delivery trials in the U.S. and in a few years commercial drones are foreseen to be delivering food. A recently published FAA forecast Fact Sheet on UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM has predicted big numbers in growth over the next five years. Here are some of the forecasts:


The small model hobbyist fleet is forecast to more than triple in size from 1.1M vehicles in 2016 to 3.55M units in 2021. The average annual growth rate over the 5-year forecast period is 26.4 percent.


The commercial, non-hobbyist fleet is forecast to grow from 42,000 in 2016 to 442,000 in 2021. The average annual growth rate over the 5-year forecast period is 58.6 percent.


The number of remote pilots is forecast to increase from 20,362 in 2016 to 281,300 in 2021. The average annual growth rate over the 5-year forecast period is 69.1 percent.


A 2017 report by McAfee predicts that drone hacking toolkits will soon be used to hack technology like police surveillance drones. Drone safety and security should never be disregarded and the more drones grow in popularity, the more diligent each user must be.


What’s the safest route? “Hire a professional for the job, not a hobbyist. It’s for your safety,” said Barba.


Drone Diligence


Perhaps one of the hottest topics when discussing drones is the issue of privacy. Be careful, consistent and considerate when considering drone privacy laws. The lack of privacy in this digital world may make it seem like it is alright to publish photos without permission, but no one wants to be recorded unknowingly. Invasions of privacy can have legal ramifications as well. Be respectful and be legal.


As technology continues to evolve, so do the solutions in securing your privacy. There are companies that have developed signal jammers that stop the video/data collecting capabilities of drones flying on or near your property. They send a signal that does not allow the drone to record any footage once it comes within a certain distance of your location.


The signal does not stop the drone from flying over your property and crashing or causing injury or damage, but it will keep your private life from being recorded by an unauthorized drone. However, most drone operators use their power for good. “The reckless drone operators who use drones for purposes other than providing solutions and enriching lives, are far and few between,” said Barba.


If you have questions or concerns about drone privacy, safety and security, contact the professionals at Summit Drones.


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