back to article Own a drone: Fine. But fly a drone with a cam: Year in the clink

Anyone in Oregon owning a drone fitted with a camera could be jailed for six months, or a year if it's caught flying, if a new state law is passed. The rules were proposed to tackle, among other things, peeping toms gazing into bedroom windows. Draft legislation before the Oregon State Senate would, if put into the statute …

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          1. LaeMing Silver badge
            Flame

            Next up....

            Politicians make it a criminal offense to hold public office because someone in such a position /might/ become corrupt and abuse that power.

          2. Rattus Rattus

            @Charles 9

            Yes, that's right. That's how life works. Law enforcement is not, contrary to many people's beliefs, there to prevent crime from occurring. They are are there to (try to) find a criminal AFTER the crime has been committed so the legal system can make sure he (or she) doesn't do it again. Pre-emptive policing is a dangerous thing to even consider. You cannot justify arresting and prosecuting someone for their intentions if they have not, in fact, done anything wrong.

          3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: RC hobbyists - Charles 9

            That is one of the most frightening things I've read on El Reg for some time. There are so many holes in your argument that it isn't possible to begin to work out where to start.

            You aren't Harlan Ellison by any chance? Only he has made me feel so uncomfortable about the way society could go (try reading "Harrison Bergeron" for a clue).

      1. Miek
        Linux

        "Huge is it? Define huge."

        -- Of exceedingly great size, extent, or quantity.

        Any other questions ?

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      when is a drone not a drone?

      " with many enthusiasts attaching cameras to their craft for the purpose of recording their flights, not to mention certain ball-ocket experiments and other high altitude boffinry."

      "No officer, it's a re-entry vehicle with a guidance camera attached.

      Yes, I know it's got LOHAN on the side"

  1. Matthew 25
    WTF?

    this...

    ... in a country that allows public gun ownership.

    Obviously the possibility you might take a picture of someone is much worse than the possibility you might kill them.

    </sark>

    1. FutureShock999

      Re: this...

      Most Western countries, including the UK and Oz, allow public gun ownership. The only question is in how much licensing there is - in the US next to none, in the UK a pretty fair amount of effort goes into keeping them out of the hands of crazies and weirdoes. The UK model is much better, but is rather too rigid in what constitutes unreasonable or irresponsible behaviour for the licensee (meaning that ANY statutory violation can result in you losing your gun license, even if someone starts a fight with YOU and you simply defend yourself, or in a moment of anger or fighting utter any threatening words of any sort). And the appeals process is horrendous, expensive, and rather biased against you. So the UK has the right laws, but overly rigid enforcement of behavioural standards, and the US is way too loose and doesn't even check psychiatric records. Somewhere between...

      BTW, does Oregon have any restrictions on placing a .410 derringer on board the drone??? Of courses, you would need a prohibited camera to actually aim it...

      1. Turtle

        @FutureShock999

        "The only question is in how much licensing there is - in the US next to none"

        Well, no. Firearms licensing is not a federal matter, but left to the states and local governments. Requirements for firearms ownerships varies greatly from one place to another and blanket generalizations are impossible to make.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: @FutureShock999

          oh, that makes it ok then.

  2. James Pickett

    As it's America, there's presumably no problem in having a gun fitted instead (although I might argue for being able to see what you were shooting at).

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      ATF,DOJ

      That would be a no no in the US.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    Tricky one

    I think having a drone with camera is an absolutely wonderful toy, if the range and battery life get a bit better than current consumer versions... you'd essentially be able to fly!

    But one can definitely imagine a massive use of these for watching people in the nude either for personal use, 'journalism', blackmail, or peep-show porn sites.

    Even if it's illegal to peep on people, catching anyone who is using a drone would be a nightmare so banning the sale of such products might, unfortunately, have to be the reasonable solution. Of course people can still built their own but then it goes from a mass-consumer-problem to a minority problem as few people could be bothered.

    There's an Arthur C. Clarke story (with Baxter I think) which talks about the death of privacy. In that case it's due to the ability to open mini-wormholes but the principle could be the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tricky one

      Curtains?

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: Tricky one

        "Curtains?"

        Nope - laser pointer

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Tricky one

        >>Curtains?

        So if I live somewhere not overlooked by any neighbours or roads, I have to make sure to close the curtains in case someone is looking through the window with a drone? Or make sure not to sunbath topless in my private garden which can't be seen any other way?

        Considering how frothy-mouthed you lot get about anyone knowing what you're doing on the internet, I'm surprised you're in favour of people spying through your window.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Tricky one

          No, you wouldn't *have* to use curtains, since it would still be covered by existing laws on peeping toms. We've had telephoto lenses for quite a while. Drones aren't some new threat to our privacy. This law, on the other hand, is a threat to common sense.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Tricky one

          >I'm surprised you're in favour of people spying through your window.

          FFS We're not in favour of people getting stabbed, but there are many uses for a knife.

        3. Psyx

          Re: Tricky one

          "I have to make sure to close the curtains in case someone is looking through the window with a drone? Or make sure not to sunbath topless in my private garden which can't be seen any other way?"

          I'd counter that that's a bit paranoid.

          Peeking toms have better ways of getting their kicks than flying little planes around and capturing grainy non-stabilised images from drone-mounted cameras.

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: Tricky one

      That would be 'The Light of Other Days.' Good book.

      Do not confuse with the short story by the same title. They are nothing alike. Just a coincidence in naming.

      1. Tom Melly

        Re: Tricky one

        Hmm... I seem to remember a story called, iirc, "Welcome to the Goldfish Bowl". There was a huge time-viewer that allowed you to see the past housed in a massive building, and it could only look back if the event was over 500 years ago or something.

        Then someone worked out a) how to make it small and cheap and b) how to get around the 500 year thing (possibly realising it was an artificial restriction). They released the machine to the public, and a very angry man from the government turned up with the simple question "how long ago is the past?" and then left, muttering the story's title. (or something).

        1. Sam Liddicott

          Re: Tricky one

          Here;s what you are remembering: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_Past

    3. Chris 244
      Thumb Up

      Not wormholes

      IIRC it was neutrino-like particles that were used to visually reconstruct a view of any event anywhere. Originally the inventor thought it would allow researchers to peer back to any moment in time, but it turned out that signal-to-noise issues limited the time range to a few days. You could specify any viewing location, however.

      Keeping the subject in frame must have been tricky, given all the wobbling and weaving our little dreidel called Earth does as it hurtles across time and space.

    4. Psyx

      Re: Tricky one

      "But one can definitely imagine a massive use of these for watching people in the nude either for personal use, 'journalism', blackmail, or peep-show porn sites."

      I'm really struggling to. I can't help think that this does pretty much nothing that binoculars don't already do. The only exception I can think of is Paparazzi using it to intrude further than their existing lenses and helicopters already allow them.

      I'm assuming drones count as Game, right? In that if they're over your property, they're yours and you can shoot them?

  4. Steven Jones

    Flak

    I rather suspect a few gun-toting hunting types will make short work of any peeping tom drones. Perhaps the American obsession with guns might have an upside after all.

    1. Haku

      Re: Flak

      They have been, this was just one incedent a year ago:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZgk1cRqAfs

      With a clip from the drone itself at the end of the video.

  5. Electric sheep
    Thumb Up

    Its the USA isn't it?

    So why don't folks just blow them out of the sky with a 44 magnum?

    Its OK to shoot pretty much anything over there isn't it?

    1. FutureShock999

      Re: Its the USA isn't it?

      You show that you have no idea about guns. You would use a 12 gauge shotgun to take out a drone, although a 20 gauge would also work with less collateral damage. A 44 magnum would likely miss...

      1. Chris 244
        Joke

        Re: FS999

        A handgun is the perfect tool in this case, just make sure you use hollow point to minimize overpenetration. I guarantee a single round to center mass of the operator will bring down the drone.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: FS999

          >I guarantee a single round to center mass of the operator will bring down the drone.

          And how do you find the operator, if they no longer need line-of-sight? If you had the kit to triangulate their position, I'm sure you can find an easer way to disable the drone or its camera.

          1. Miek
            Coat

            Re: FS999

            It can't be that hard to find someone located in a 100 metre radius of said drone xD

            1. Haku

              @Miek

              100 meters? Nothing. Some of the FPV plane flyers can go a couple of miles with a live feed using equipment that doesn't break any laws regarding RF transmissions.

            2. taxman
              Big Brother

              Re: FS999

              http://www.helipal.com/product_info.php?currency=GBP&products_id=9957&gclid=CJesj-fGwrUCFUvHtAodzgEAMA

              Not quite a couple of miles, but far enough.

      2. Anonymous C0ward

        Re: Its the USA isn't it?

        >A 44 magnum would likely miss...

        Depends whether they feel lucky, punk.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Its the USA isn't it?

      Its OK to shoot pretty much anything over there isn't it?

      Some jurisdictions get snooty about discharging firearms within city limits. In those places you might be reliant on 'self defence' statutes and/or a lenient judge. Speaking personally I find the idea of someone firing a gun out of a bedroom window at a floating drone to be horrifying. Where's the bullet going to go if you miss? Come to that with a decent handgun the bullet will probably keep on going even if you do hit the drone. Even shotgun pellets could end up peppering your neighbour's garden.

      It's bad enough firing a gun upward within a populated area but firing it horizontally from a second floor window is scary as hell.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Its the USA isn't it?

      So just fit a gun to your drone and the Oregon politicians will be falling over themselves to defend your right to it

    4. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Its the USA isn't it?

      I keep waiting for the rest of the world to understand the difference between a well armed population and a bunch of trigger happy lunatics. Only an utter fool would shoot at a drone in a populated area. Granted, we do have more than our fair share of utter fools (AKA gang bangers), but they're still an extreme minority.

      1. Psyx
        Happy

        Re: Its the USA isn't it?

        "I keep waiting for the rest of the world to understand the difference between a well armed population and a bunch of trigger happy lunatics. Only an utter fool would shoot at a drone in a populated area. ."

        But don't you have people who fire handguns at cinema screens?!

  6. ratfox Silver badge
    FAIL

    People are crazy

    Seriously, you want a new law just to stop the maybe two guys in the whole state who would be willing to go to all that trouble, when there is an internet full of porn available?

    Anyway, isn't it already illegal to peep on people? Why bother with a new law, which will stop people from taking some completely innocent but very cool movies?

    This is very much like banning all phone cameras because there are people who will use them to take underskirt pictures in the subway. Let's ban zoom lenses, too.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Well, it would certainly kill

    any US-based Lohan shenanigans, would it not?

    1. Annihilator
      Go

      Re: Well, it would certainly kill

      I think if LOHAN drifts into Oregon's airspace then the mission will have wildly exceeded Lester's expectations :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, it would certainly kill

      Not necessarily so. This law wouldn't apply to balloonists, private pilots, passenegrs and such from taking videos it only cameras fixed to the flying device so there is a loophole.

      Lohan will have a playmonaut, fix a helmet cam to his helmet.

  8. AdamSweetman

    What exactly are they trying to do?

    It seems a very specific piece of legislation. Its not going to stop people who wish to perform an illegal act anyway (unauthorised surveillance) from performing that act, they are already determined to break 1 law, what's another one?

    More sensibly, how about mandating that all remotely operating devices with cameras carry a flashing orange light clearly visible from both the air and ground, this would seem to resolve the hidden surveillance problem whilst also covering a multitude of other potential problems as well, but not limiting legitimate users from enjoying the capability that camera mounted flying toys can bring.

  9. Shaha Alam
    Big Brother

    It's ok to spy on your neighbour.

    as long as you're not enjoying it.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    No peeping, OK?

    That's the Government's domain.

    1. Turtle

      @Winkypop Re: No peeping, OK?

      "That's Google's domain."

      Fixed!

      : ))

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Miniature Surface to Air Missile system?

    If anyone is worried about being filmed whilst nude then just deploy a mini SAM battery to protect your airspace.

    Probably wouldn't even need an active warhead, just the impact would knock the cambot down....

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Miniature Surface to Air Missile system?

      I was thinking the same, a new market opens, anti-drone private missile systems and window lasers to blind the cameras... with small IIR/radars sensor to track the drones and shoot 'em out. Or maybe fighter drones to take down peeping ones...,

    2. Peter Simpson 1
      Coat

      Re: Miniature Surface to Air Missile system?

      Trained owls.

      //Purina Owl Chow in the pocket

  12. Velv Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I'd been looking at flying toys for a while, so when one came up in the HMV sale at half price I took the plunge.

    I've never attempted being a peeping tom, but I'm guessing you need to stay pretty quiet. Quiet is N O T something that can be said for drones. Even with double glazing I suspect you'd notice the buzzing noise at the window (unless it was being masked by a buzzing noise in the room).

  13. James 51 Silver badge
    Joke

    I am the law!

    as US peeps grow increasingly uncomfortable with being watched all the time

    as US perps grow increasingly uncomfortable with being watched all the time

    There you go, fixed that for you.

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