Arizona legislators expressed a desire to protect people from having their backyard privacy invaded by drones, but disagreed on what exactly should be prohibited.
By Howard Fischer || Capitol Media Services
State lawmakers are moving to make sure people don’t get too nosy with their new drones.
On a party-line vote last week, members of the House Commerce Committee approved legislation that would make it a felony to intentionally photograph, record or otherwise observe someone else in a private place where that person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”
But there was no agreement on exactly when someone crosses that line. And that, said foes, makes SB 1277 unclear exactly what would and would not land you in prison.
And it’s not just an amateur drone pilot who could get into trouble.
A lobbyist for NBC Universal worried that his client could run afoul of the law if it videotaped homes incidental to regular news and sports reporting.
And even an insurance industry lobbyist expressed concerns that efforts by his client to use drones to assess damage to homes after a disaster could result in criminal charges.
But the real debate came down to where people have that “expectation of privacy.”
Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, told colleagues that a lot of it is in the eye of the person who is the one being viewed or videotaped.
On one extreme, he said, would be someone flying a drone into someone’s yard to the point where it could peer through the window into a bedroom. That, said Kern, is where someone would expect privacy.
Not so much, he said, if there is a drone taking pictures of him in his back yard.