In rural Maine it is common to see helicopters flying low over the country side, we jokingly attribute it to the DEA looking for someone’s grow crop. So, I cannot imagine what it was like for William Merideth of Hillview, Kentucky, who saw a drone hovering in his back yard while his teen daughter was sunbathing. Merideth shot the drone down as it hovered ten feet off the ground over his yard.
Merideth has a six foot privacy fence surrounding his back yard, he considered the drones actions as trespassing. Another neighbor, Kim Van Meter, also reported that her daughter was out sun-bathing and the drone hovered over her back yard as well. The owner of the drone claims he was only trying to take pictures of a friend’s house. In the end, Merideth was arrested for wanton endangerment and criminal mischief. The drones owners only lost the drone, no legal action was taken at the time. However; Merideth says he intends to sue the drone’s owners.
The current regulations for home made drones are still being determined, but there are provisional ones. The rules require that the operator maintain line-of-sight at all times. That the aircraft not be flown over crowds of people and airports. They are required to fly below 400 feet. In the U.K there are laws on homemade drones; for example, an unmanned aircraft with a camera are classified as an unmanned surveillance aircraft, and are subject to stricter rules regarding the operation. If there’s a camera on-board, the operator is not allowed to fly the drone within 100 feet of any individual. Why is the FAA dragging their knuckles on implementing laws on homemade drones?
According to the FAA destroying an aircraft is a serious federal crime, and this law, in theory, could apply to drones. It is not right that this statute is clearly intended to protect people who are flying helicopters and other aircraft in the air, it should not apply to non-government drones and toy aircraft. The FAA has taken the stance that all of these devices are just jammed in with the term “aircraft” for legal purposes without the carefully considering the consequences of their terminology.
As Americans we have the right to protect our family and property. The owner of the drone clearly invaded Merideth’s rights of privacy. An intrusion of solitude is the physical or electronic intrusion in to ones private quarters, the owner of the drone clearly infringed upon his neighbors rights. If the owner took pictures of the girls sun-bathing this is also a violation of rights, and also has the right to claim trespassing. Peoples rights of privacy is being eroded by the presence of these camera equipped home-drones, and some are suggesting self defense rights concerning drones should be expanded. Which would make them legal to shoot down at a certain range.
This article was written by Laurell Morse, a writer for dusk magazine.