YOU ARE BEING WATCHED
The reasonable expectation
Police are investigating an incident at a
hunting club in which
someone on the hunting grounds allegedly targeted a mechanical flying object
rather than a living and breathing one. The drone, nicknamed “Angel,” was
recording a live pigeon shoot on Sunday around when investigators say it was suddenly struck by gunfire. Berks
The story centers around a Berks County, PA hunting club and their local self appointed wildlife Gestapo…a group calling itself SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness).
By the group President’s own admission, they have driven the owners/users of the property well inland, so to speak.
"The pigeon shooters are basically going into hiding," said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK. "So they're using a ring that's up a hill and completely surrounded by trees. So the only way you can get to it is through the air."
The case raises some interesting questions in an undoubtedly murky area of the law. The title here “From Heaven to Hell” comes from an article in the
the same subject. The original common
law position on property rights was “ad coelum et ad inferos” or “to the heavens
No matter your opinion on shooting pigeons let out of a box, this case has the potential to impact all of us. If I am tanning naked (god forbid) in the privacy of my own backyard, is my neighbor committing trespass if he flies his radio-controlled aircraft with an HD camera over my lot snapping pictures?
The advent of aeronautics pretty much wiped out the theory of “ad coelum et ad inferos” so we are left with the legal restrictions for aircraft (mind you, drones don’t necessarily fall in this category)…and the nearest thing that meets the described situation is:
FAA regulations in 14 CFR 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes states:
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
b) “Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of
1,000 feet above the highest
obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.”
So if it were a Cessna and not a drone they could approach no closer than
2000 ft at a minimum altitude > 1000 ft..
There are plenty of fourth amendment cases on which the courts have ruled on the reasonable expectation of privacy, in your house, curtilage, and surrounding lands but the 4th amendment applies to the actions of the government, not other citizens.
So you have to ask yourself, what is your 'reasonable expectation of privacy'? I can put up security cameras that capture my property and may overlap yours... what if I put a camera on a pole on the fence line pointed at your pool?
If someone were flying a drone with a camera over my house in the middle of 100 wooded acres, I'd be inclined to shoot it down too.