Cal. Litig. 2016, Volume 29, Number 1

Privacy Expectations in an Era of Drones

By Kristopher Kokotaylo

As unmanned aerial systems, or "drones," proliferate, what expectation of privacy does an individual have related to images that might be captured with these devices? Although the Federal Aviation Administration is tasked with ensuring that drones are operated safely within navigable airspace, the FAA will not be addressing the privacy rights of citizens on the ground. (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 80 Fed. Reg. 9544, 9552 (Feb. 23, 2015).) State and local governments, however, are moving forward to address privacy concerns. What are the boundaries and limitations for state and local regulation of drone use by private citizens and possible protections against potential invasive drone use?

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Existing Federal Regulations

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