From a NYT column (in the "Style" section for some reason), "When Your Neighbor’s Drone Pays an Unwelcome Visit." The author, Nick Bilton, refers to a recent Kentucky case in which a judge dismissed charges against a man who shot down a drone that came into his property where his 16-year-old daughter was sunbathing.
Bilton takes a stab at the legal issues, but doesn't get very far. Can you destroy someone else's property when it trespasses into the air above your land? I wrote the question that way to exclude the distinct issue of discharging a firearm. Assume you have a device that catches the drone and you smash it with a hammer or drive your car over it. What if you just capture it and sequester it (or call the police)?
Here's another NYT article about a bill in Congress aimed at regulating drones:
Hobby groups are trying to peel back recreational registration rules, while airline pilots are pushing for more mandates that drone makers like DJI and GoPro put safety technology on machines. Amazon and Google, which want to use drones for delivery, are asking permission to test their technology....Here's a CNN article from last fall: "Is it OK to shoot down a drone over your backyard?"
[Lawprof Michael Froomkin]... argues that self-defense should be permissible against drones simply because you don't know their capabilities....And here's an article in The Atlantic: "If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor's House, Is It Trespassing?":
Drones -- as flying, seeing objects -- scramble our 2D sense of property boundaries....Ravich said that in 2012, when "the then-existing sensibilities of the population" were whatever existed then. Who knows what the now-existing sensibilities of the population are? Wait a few more years and there won't be any at all.
"This idea of a reasonable expectation of privacy has always been accepted as the standard and the interface of that privacy right and emerging UAV technology is fascinating," [said aviation lawyer Timothy Ravich]. "There is not an answer. The best we can do is arrive at laws and practices of the then-existing sensibilities of the population."
AND: Those who, like Nick Bilton's wife, care about privacy, tend to appear late in the time line. First come the tech fans with their toys and devices, figuring out new things to do, becoming interested and invested. It's hard for the privacy people even to understand what's going on, let alone jump into the regulatory process and make themselves heard. That's why I cringe at the Ravich's "then-existing sensibilities of the population"... and why, I think, we're seeing the defenders of privacy going for a self-help, self-defense approach.
IN THE COMMENTS: robother said:
I'm always struck by the geeky proposition that because it's a new, cool technology using wifi or the internet, that makes it different, automatically exempt from prior legal categories. Uber isn't gypsy cabs because...it's an app!
Drones are cool tech-toys, so using them to take pictures of neighbors sunbathing in their backyards or taking showers isn't the same as a peeping tom.
Downloading free music from an app isn't the same as stealing a CD from a music store because... The Internet!