You could buy a drone today for a few hundred dollars, arm it with a camera, and fly it over your sexy neighbor's swimming pool.
On the other hand, a drone could end up buzzing outside your bedroom window, just waiting for you to put on your own show. That's the fear for one L.A.-area state lawmaker who says he wants to protect your privacy when it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles.
Alex Padilla announced that his drone-privacy bill, SB 15, passed the state senate on a vote of 38-1. It now heads to the assembly and then, if the lower house approves it, to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for his signature.
It appears that it would protect your privacy against not only pervs but, say, TMZ, if it got its hands on one, and even police, which could try to spy on your green garden, for example.
According to language of the bill:
Both public and private operators of unmanned aircraft systems have a responsibility to not infringe on the rights, property, or privacy of the citizens of California, and any data, information, photographs, video, or recordings of individuals, both public and private, should be minimized and retained in a manner consistent with current privacy standards.
Padilla's law would also prohibit you from putting guns and bombs on the things. Thank goodness for that.
There could be as many as 10,000 remote-controlled drones operating over America in the next several years. The FAA has until 2015 to figure out how to allow the devices to fly legally in American airspace.
When it comes to domestic deployment of drones, I believe there is legitimate reason for concern about privacy, civil liberties and public safety. We need clear guidelines in place that protect Californians from surreptitious surveillance activities.
We're not sure anybody will be able to protect us from paparazzi or teenage boys with these things, but we'll see.