Drone in your back yard?

By: Peter R. Certo, Jr, Attorney at Law

Currently Ohio has virtually no regulation at all regarding the operation of drones, none.

Many people have no problems with drones catching criminals. They also have no problem with an illegal search if that search turns up evidence of criminal activity. As long it was a bad guy, we don't care. It gets much more difficult when drones watch everyone or every house is searched. That is why the legislatures and courts have limited the ability to search without a warrant or " exigent circumstances" (emergencies). There are no rules for drones.

When it comes to drones, lines need to be drawn. I'm not talking about government high altitude flights with HD cameras and weapons. Right now, there is nothing to stop a neighbor, reporter, investigator or anyone else from flying a drone over your back yard, at a very low altitude, and monitoring, recording and publishing your family's every move. Nothing stops those same persons from flying that drone outside your upper story windows and doing the same monitoring. If you live in a high rise apartment, condo or office building, the same "freedom" applies. Schools, pools, day care centers, and nursing homes nothing is exempt except government restricted airspace.

Let's say a drone appears over your yard, and you decide to take action. You grab you son's BB gun, or even just throw a rock, and take it down. The only one committing a crime is likely you. Most cities and incorporated areas have ordinances making it a criminal offense to discharge such weapons within the city limits except for self-defense. Just throwing the rock might be criminal damaging since the drone operator was violating no law. To add insult, you would be ordered to pay the damage to the owner of the drone that was spying on you.

So the next time someone asks your opinion on the matter of drones, don't answer "I don't have to worry because I am not doing anything wrong." Remember, anything you or your kids do on your own private property now can become fodder for the internet.