Tuesday, November 27, 2012

From the Heavens to Hell

YOU ARE BEING WATCHED

 

The reasonable expectation of privacy. 


Police are investigating an incident at a Berks County 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 3 p.m. when investigators say it was suddenly struck by gunfire.

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 Atlantic on the same subject.  The original common law position on property rights was “ad coelum et ad inferos” or “to the heavens and hell”


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.
 
 

48 comments:

Silverfiddle said...

The Fourth Amendment, if not dead, is bleeding profusely.

-FJ said...

Or one who lives by his own beliefs and lets others live by theirs.

Hmmmm... how's that theory working out as applied to this case, FinnTann?

Lesson 1 - Justice vs Wisdom - the inverse proportion rule.

-FJ said...

Putting the "ratio" back into "rational" thought.

conservativesonfire said...

With to day's tachnology and the technology on the drawing noards, privacy of any kind is going to be almost impossible to protect. Our government is planning to pass a law giving many angencies of government the right to snoop on e-mails without a warrent. When we depended on the US postal Service to deliver our private thoughts in a sealed envelop with a government stamp on it, it was a seriously enforced federal crime for someone, even law enforcement , to open that envelop with out a warrent. Times have changed and not for the better.

-FJ said...

Now choose which circle should wax, and the other, wane.

Silverfiddle said...

@ FJ: "how's that theory working out as applied to this case"

Obviously quite poorly. People of all parties have voted for overweening statism, and the Demicans and Republicrats have given it to us.

How do you like it?

-FJ said...

As one opposed to overweening statism, I voted for the Libertarian candidate for president this time around.

But then hey, at least I stood FOR something. Even if it wasn't for "libertarianism" at the "State" level.

...For without the Executioner, society cannot stand. (Joseph de Maistre, "St. Petersberg letters" - Panegyric to the executioner)

Liberalmann said...

In case you hadn't notices. The preponderance of today's surveillance cameras occurred within a few years after 9/11 under Bush's Patriot Acts.

Ducky's here said...

Come on, Silver.
In return for a police state to keep you safe from the dirty #occupy hippies you have to expect to give up a little.

Bunkerville said...

Good shot I would say. A relative of mine took a remote controlled model airplane and attached a camera...anyone now can play cops. Kiss your privacy goodbye.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Liberalmann: "In case you hadn't notices. The preponderance of today's surveillance cameras occurred within a few years after 9/11 under Bush's Patriot Acts."

We did notice.

In case you didn't notice, you won't find any fans of the Bush's Heimatlandsicherheit Diktat here.

Silverfiddle said...

I'd like to remind everyone to please refrain from feeding the trolls.

We delete troll turds when we can, but since we all have jobs it takes awhile sometimes.

We also delete troll-enabler comments, no matter how witty.

OD357 said...

Technology always proceeds the laws that govern it. For example, if I make an archival backup of a VHS tape I'm legal. Fair usage. But if I make the same archival backup of a DVD it's illegal.

FAA regulation, doesn't sound like deep in the woods is exactly a congested area. According to the original article pigeon shoots are legal in Berk county.

And at $4000 damage each incident. They'll run out of drones before the shooting club runs out of shotgun shells. Using the heaven to hell property theory, they are shooting on their own private property. Using bird shot the drones would have to be within 50 or 60 yards to get effective hits.

In the meantime I recommend six shot on drones. Their hides can be tough. I think most states would classify a drone as a nuisance varmint. Legal game all year long.

Jersey McJones said...

If you're flying below the legal altitude, and recording activities on private property, that seems to be clearly illegal.

JMJ

Jersey McJones said...

Oh, and shooting animals out of boxes is about the sleaziest, scummiest, lowliest activity one could imagine. It takes a really dirty, low, slob (like Dick Cheney) to do that kind of thing.

JMJ

Ducky's here said...

Probably, Jersey.

But who would even prosecute?

viburnum said...

If you're going to release invasive pests like pigeons the only responsible thing to do is shoot them as promptly as possible. I wish they'd switch to starlings but there's not much sport in pointing a shotgun at a cloud of birds that covers half an acre.

Ducky's here said...

I would pick Canadian geese first, myself.

But pigeons work.

Silverfiddle said...

Oh, and shooting animals out of boxes is about the sleaziest, scummiest, lowliest activity one could imagine. It takes a really dirty, low, slob (like Dick Cheney) to do that kind of thing.

But if you go to the grocery store and get on wrapped in cellophane from the meat case, that's OK...

-FJ said...

But who would even prosecute?

Only Republicans by Democrats. Just ask Lucianne Goldberg.

-FJ said...

Reward friends, PUNISH enemies. It's the Soros way.

Jersey McJones said...

Yes, Silver, because you have that choice. If you CHOOSE to murder animals for fun, than you are a slob.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

So it's OK if somebody else 'murders' it for you. I get it.

What's your stance on fishing?

Ducky's here said...

He said "kill for fun", Silver.

Clear distinction fro your hunting.
Why so defensive.

-FJ said...

...apparently ducky frowns upon your policy of juche because it circumvents his favoured market exchange system (free market capitalism) and prevents "workers" from extorting their "fair" proportion of surplus values generated.

Who knew that ducky/jersey were such liberal capitalists at heart?

The Absolute Marxist said...

Absolute Marxism takes yet another hit...

Silverfiddle said...

Not defensive, just asking for clarification. So, if I'm fishing, I can't enjoy it?

And eating creatures is ok so long as someone else does the killing, and they're not having fun while they do it?

Leticia said...

If I noticed a neighbor's pole with a camera attached directed at my house and backyard, it would become a target practice.

There are some boundaries people should never cross. I don't mind cameras in parking lots, elevators, stores, etc.

But my home is my safe haven and NO ONE has the right to invade my privacy.

Liberalmann said...

Silverfiddle said: 'In case you didn't notice, you won't find any fans of the Bush's Heimatlandsicherheit Diktat here. "

Yeah I also noticed no one on the right complained when Bush started doing this. Just like the feigned outrage the right takes with Obama's use of drones. You'd have applauded Bush if used more of them. And it proves Obama's closer to the center than you'd all care to admit.

Silverfiddle said...

Liberalmann: Since none of us here had blogs back then, you have no way of knowing what I or anyone else thought of it.

It "proves" nothing, other than you are not very bright or observant.

Silverfiddle said...

Liberalmann: I will also remind you that the Patriot Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, and the drone program drones on with bipartisan approval in congress, and we have written about these things here in a thoughtful manner.

So yeah, I'll give it to you that in some respects Obama is close to the center. Does that make him correct and beyond questioning?

I think it merely means we have a congress, like during the Bush years, that is asleep and willing to cede too much power to the president.

Republican or Democrat in the White House, when both congress and the press sits on its ass and refused to ask questions, we have a king, not a President.

Looks like you're OK with that so long as the king calls himself a Democrat.

Sam Huntington said...

The Brossart family in North Dakota wouldn't give back three cows and their calves that wandered onto their 3,000-acre farm this summer, so the same aerial vehicles used by the CIA to track down and assassinate terrorists and militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan were used by cops to spy on these Americans in their own backyard. What did the court say? There is no expectation of privacy in your own backyard. Communism is already here in full force.

Source

Finntann said...

@The Fourth Amendment, if not dead, is bleeding profusely.

The 4th Amendment doesn't apply to the actions of private citizens and groups, as in this case. I do agree with you however, that in regard to the government, it is severely wounded.

@Or one who lives by his own beliefs and lets others live by theirs

It works quite well applied to this case... are you really that dense?

@I voted for the Libertarian candidate for president this time around. But then hey, at least I stood FOR something.

You can vote for Winnie the Pooh on principle, but it won't change anything. I like Gary Johnson, he was a great governor... but if you hadn't noticed the game is rigged.

@If you're flying below the legal altitude.

It's a gray area in the rules.

As far as shooting animals out of boxes, I would agree it is not sporting, but would you say the same thing about shooting a cow in the head in a chute?

@If I noticed a neighbor's pole with a camera attached directed at my house and backyard, it would become a target practice.

Technically that would be vandalism, although legally you may be able to pursue 'harassment' against your neighbor and get a restraining order. There are however, certain lasers available on the open market that.... ;)

@Yeah I also noticed no one on the right complained when Bush started doing this

DEAD WRONG

Finntann said...

There is no expectation of privacy in your own backyard.

It has been that way for awhile. The courts have ruled that you have an expectation of privacy in what is known as curtilage, the area immediately adjacent to your home and structures.

The courts have ruled that a police officer comitting trespass in fenced and marked property, such as a large wooded lot and discovering pot plants not immediately adjacent to a structure... is admissible evidence and no warrant is required.

I originally had a larger discussion of curtilage and property rights in this article and removed it for the sake of brevity.

Rob said...

I know you were making a point about privacy, but I can't help but fixate on the underlying issue...

If my neighbor's life is so incredibly lackluster that catching a peek of -my- fat butt nude sunbathing is the highlight of his pathetic day, then perhaps I have a social obligation to idly help the miserable bastard.

Perhaps the notion of someone peeping at my private goings-on is a bit disturbing, but really, I don't believe that anything I'm doing is noteworthy enough for anyone to make an effort to spy on me. To think otherwise is in the same vein of the douchebags who perpetually wear Bluetooth heads - how self-important can you possibly be? Do you really think that you're so vital that you require perpetual instantaneous communication? Expecting an emergency call from the Secret Service with the fate of national security hanging in the balance?

When I was a kid, we had 4' fences and commonly played in the front yard too. Now we're all so damned paranoid that we have 6-7' fences and nobody strays out of the back yard for fear of being seen. I think it's largely a side-effect of helicopter parenting. Thicken up your skin and dare to be a part of the world outside your own little bubble.

So maybe we need to consider not giving so much of a shit about our silly self-absorbed privacy and just focus on living.

Finntann said...

And that Rob, is a very good attitude.

KP said...

@Finntann << There are however, certain lasers available on the open market that...>>

Do those lasers (that some people in Egypt play with in the dark) disbale cameras? I know they can blind a person. Thanks in advance.

KP said...

I don't live at Skyfall so the Google car doesn't bother me. It's important to avoid doing stupid things. Life is tough; but it's a tougher when you are stupid.

Finntann said...

I'm no expert, but I've read about HDSLR cameras getting toasted at concerts by laser light shows. I've also heard that cameras can be damaged by lasers as low as 200mw. You can buy a 1.2 Watt laser for about $1900

Finntann said...

Oops, meant to include this link:

http://www.laserglow.com/GSS

in the last post.

Also, if you don't want to destroy it, many night capable CCTVs cameras can be saturated with an IR spot, camera still works but all they see is a white screen.

Cheers!

Jersey McJones said...

To you dudes taking me to task for eating meat without personally killing it, all I can say is this: If I had a realistic alternative for my natural dietary needs, I would pursue it, but I would not kill other animals for fun. I just don't see the fun in that. Thank you, Ducky. That was exactly the point.

If one finds fun in killing, right?

LOL!

The irony is already officially lost.

JMJ

OD357 said...

Steve, Rob you are missing the point. It's not like a model plane accidentally wandered over a property line. This was a surveillance drone with the intended purpose of trespassing deep within a secluded area.

How you you feel if someone stood on the street curbside outside your house with a telescope looking into your windows.

I agree with Leticia, I'd use a camera pointed at my private property for target practice. Even if I had to chunk dirt clods at it.

I don't agree with live pigeon shoots. But if it's legal, either change the system of start coloring.

viburnum said...

A little research reveals that the club in question is not just a local sportsman's club, but a commercial "canned" hunting facility. ( Another separate discussion )

The group with the flying camera isn't local, but based in Geneva, Illinois.

Since it's 650 miles from there to my neighbors up the road in Moselem, PA and there's probably a hundred gun clubs between them I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't really so much a case of spying on your neighbors, as one of an "animal right's" based protection racket.

They seem to have had some success instigating lawsuits with rodeos and settling out of court.

beamish said...

We've been randomly data mining your ATM debit card transactions and your spending patterns have triggered reasonable suspicion that you might be a carbohydrate hoarder. Access to your checking and savings accounts have been suspended pending a cursory investigation into whether or not your on hand foodstuffs comply with Obamacare designated dietary allowances given your statistically predetermined health risk factors.

Rob said...

Yeah Rich, I get that. I would feel violated if someone stood on the street curbside outside my house with a telescope looking into my windows.

But then, armed with that knowledge, I'm just vindictive and juvenile to give ya an uncomfortable eyeful. Go on and feast yer eyes, ya miserable buggers!

I might also start anonymously sending key members of this SHARK group select photos of their family members snagged with telephoto lenses. A little tit for tat.

Or perhaps show up on Sunday morning sidled up to these key SHARK members on the pew at church, chatting it up with Aunt Millie during the hymnals.

Oh, I believe I could have some devilish - yet still legal - fun with a campaign against these bastards that would give them some ample reason to question how much they want to get to know me.

How do you defeat a micromanaging boss? Ya deluge him with minutia. Likewise, maybe you best defeat privacy-abusing scum by becoming their very best, around-the-clock, "friends."

Silverfiddle said...

I get ya Jersey... Just don't let us catch you having fun eating...

KP said...

Impressive stuff Rob! You might be able to start a free lance business here :-)

FreeThinke said...

Do they stlll make Pablum?