Showing posts with label drone law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drone law. Show all posts

Monday, April 8, 2013

On engaging the public on privacy, journalism, and drones.

Journalists might be familiar with the quote by US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who once wrote "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

Journalists seeking to use unmanned aircraft would be wise not to just apply that concept of uncovering the truth about others, but also to make the public aware of how they intend to use "drones."

While the response journalists get from the public might be unexpected, the answer is not to become defensive or rely on ad-hominem arguments. Whatever your station in journalism, you are as much a servant to the public as any of the officials you interview.

The following is copied from the post I wrote for

Monday, March 4, 2013

A map of all the drone laws in the United States.

The ACLU recently published on its technology blog a list of 28 states that are pursuing regulations for unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS. They're more commonly referred to as "drones," and in fact many of the proposed laws use that exact word.

I dug further to find out what lawmakers are actually proposing. You may click on individual states in the above map to learn more about specific legislation.

Out of the 28 states, 14 are proposing limitations only to law enforcement. In most cases, proposed legislation would make it illegal for law enforcement to use an unmanned aircraft without a warrant.

Some also call for evidence obtained from a "drone" to be destroyed after a specified period. A few ban any government entities from using the technology altogether.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The case of Chicken v Bomber, and how it might impact drone law

The first thing you should know is if you run afoul (pun very much intended) of the law, I can’t bail you out. If you read the “About the Author” page on, you’ll note that I’m not a lawyer. My only legal qualifications are an undergraduate course in media law.

Having said that, I started researching drone law and writing back in March, shortly before the Brookings Institution organized a panel on domestic drones and privacy. The ACLU had just published a report in December 2011 called “Protecting Privacy from Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft” that referenced important Supreme Court cases that might play a role in drone law.

Just this week, Alexis Madrigal, the senior editor for the Technology channel at the Atlantic, wrote about two cases that could have some bearing on drone law, Guille v. Swan, and U.S. v. Causby. The latter involved dead chickens.

I’ll be writing about that case here. When we talk about drone laws, we’re talking about a speculative thing. To date, no journalist has been sued for violating rights of privacy with an unmanned aerial system. There is no legal precedent specifically for drones as of yet, although that might change in the near future. As drone technology proliferates, so too does the potential for abuse and for court cases.

But the United States courts are not absent of precedent that would come up in a privacy case involving drones. It’s is important to keep in mind that in many cases drone journalism is a form of aerial photography, albeit an unmanned form of aerial photography. Additionally, cases that consider whether the National Airspace System (NAS) is public or private are highly relevant.