Drone Surveillance - Has it happened to you?

" IJ says that evidence the government uncovers can be used in civil code-enforcement proceedings, even if the government deliberately violated rights when uncovering that evidence."

Had a drone crash into one of our windows, I stepped out onto the roof and gathered the wreckage. I pulled the SD card then took it to the building security guards who called the police. The cops that showed up pretty much said it’s not illegal for someone to fly a drone around a high rise and look in the windows as long as there wasn’t any thing like pictures of kids in the bath tub or such stuff. A week or so later the head security guard came to me and said the owner of the drone, a large international bank, wanted the drone back or they’d try to make me pay $1500.00 to replace it. My response, “Send them up here, I’ll give them the wreckage as soon as they explain to me why there are pictures of me and R having sex on the SD card.” Didn’t hear another word. No there weren’t any pictures of me a R doing the wild thing.


That’s generally true, the part about not illegal. There is currently no particular height/altitude over private property that is a black and white limit. There are limits on things like if you are terrorizing livestock etc, but, yeah, generally drones can fly over your business or house or property and you can’t say no.

(I hold an FAA license for remote operation of small unmanned aircraft systems aka commercial drone license, Part 107)

Also, a lot of people out there are using ‘drones’ illegally and don’t even know it. A lot of people doing things with them that require a license, and don’t have a license. As time goes on we are going to hear a lot more about this, especially as people who don’t have licenses haven’t learned how to read sectional charts and don’t understand how airports work and don’t know how to stay out of controlled airspace cause more incidents with piloted aircraft)


Combat drones, send in spiders!

We are so close!


Note that Constitutional protections – e.g., 4th Amendment prohibitions on searches without a warrant – apply to government actions. Your building owner – large international bank – probably does not fall under “government.”


I’ve had a few occasions where drones followed me around for a bit while I was doing surveys on project sites. Though more often than not it was some other contractor playing with their drone. Guess if they use it on the project site they can write it off as a business expense??


Unfortunately this is true. Though I suspect some peeping Tom laws should still apply to private citizens and corporations. If they do not they should be rewritten to stop invasions of privacy using drones as well. I see no difference between a creepy person staring directly into your window and a creepy person using a drone to do the same thing.


They just passed a law in Montana that you aren’t allowed to fly drones near wild fires because there were a couple of close calls with them almost hitting the planes and choppers trying to fight the fires. If a drone is seen in the area they ground all aircraft until it’s clear.


Ppl around where I live are known to shoot them down over their property.


Which is likely a serious federal offense.

Shooting down an aircraft is a big deal, which is what that is.

Those people need to watch themselves


Guess it depends on what your definition of “aircraft “ is. It will probably have to go to court but I don’t count remotely controlled flying objects as aircraft.
Edit: that also doesn’t have living ppl on it.


That’s per the federal government definition.

Just sayin’, it is a serious federal thing to shoot down a drone. People will want to be careful here (as in, probably a good idea to not shoot them down, or take them down)

Just look at the name of my ‘drone’ license, it’s for sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems)


Are the ppl thT fly drones self governing or by FAA?

1 Like


An unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is an unmanned aircraft (UA) with associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications, and navigation equipment necessary to operate it. A UA is considered an aircraft under both 49 U.S.C. § 40102 and 14 C.F.R. § 1.1.


Yes. They fall under the FAA.

Even if you fly a little $50 drone with a lame camera 3 feet over the roof of the house you are working on (say, replacing shingles, and you are using the drone to inspect the roof), you are required to have an FAA license for that. For example.

Also to fly in certain airspaces, etc.

It’s highly regulated by the FAA.


Even if shooting at the drone wasn’t considered illegal, discharging a firearm within many city and town limits often is. Even if you have a property outside of jurisdictional limits, discharging a firearm within certain distances of other occupied residences usually is illegal as well.

Even if it is legal to shoot on your property you could still be charged with destruction of property if you intentional destroyed the drone. Though maybe you could argue you were shooting clays and the drone got in the way;)


I used to fly hang gliders. We had to follow AA regs but were self governing. FAA only sepped in in serious violations.

Another example, I live within X miles of a towered airport. Not that anybody else but me seems to know this (since I have a license), but it’s literally illegal to fly a $25 amazon toy drone 1 foot off the ground in my backyard without applying for and receieving FAA approval through an app at the time of the flight, as I live in controlled airspace.

This is the kind of thing people violate all the time, without knowing…like people who unknowingly build unregistered SBR’s, put a vertical grip on a braced pistol, etc, or how a father will gift a child a firearm who lives in another state without going through an FFL and it’s a pretty serious federal crime.

Lots of people commit drone crimes, federal crimes, and don’t know. But that is going to tighten as time goes on and they become more common

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many violations of FAA and and ATF/etc I have witnessed over the years


Does that apply to all drones with cameras or just ones being used for professional purposes? I remember looking into this several years ago and the drone I was looking at for my son was not required to have a license for recreational use, I believe due to its size. Though it also did not have a camera.


So the main factor there is that use of a drone for any direct or indirect compensation/business use requires a license. Even people who go out into the desert and test suspension on their pickup and use a 3 second video clip of the truck, taken from the drone, in their youtube video that is monetized (get money from ads on the video) , for example, must have FAA license. All the roofers using them business related to inspect, etc, are supposed to have the FAA license.

There are also airspace restrictions on when and where you can and can’t fly, sometimes requiring notification of the FAA via an app and getting permission, and knowing how to check temporary no fly zones and NOTAMS are things where if you don’t get the license, you don’t know what you don’t know and are likely to end up violating federal this that and the other and not even know until it’s too late


Hang gliders can fly through tower controlled air space. Only caveat is that you had to call first. If they said no, you were SOL. Of course attempting to fly one in any of the major airports was an automatic no go. It also depends on how close to the tower you are. The closer you are the more restrictive and lower, In altitude ,the regs go that you have to follow.

Boy Scouts even have to get permission when they shoot off their rockets.

1 Like