back to article Ban drones taking snaps of homes, rages Google boss... That's HIS job, right?

Google supremo Eric Schmidt has demanded tough rules on civilians flying surveillance drones, branding the tech a threat to privacy. The executive chairman of the internet advertising giant that snaps photos of millions of front doors worldwide is upset that cheap camera-toting aircraft can be used by anyone from terrorists to …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Chris Miller

    Is this the same Eric Schmidt

    who said: "if you don’t have anything to hide, you have nothing to fear".

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Is this the same Eric Schmidt

      That's what I was going to post... however I agree with his comments in this case even though I think drones are incredibly awesome and I really want one. They are such an open opportunity for perving and so on - I shouldn't have to close my curtains if my window is not overlooked.

      I fear they may be banned before they properly take off (!) as a toy.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Is this the same Eric Schmidt

        His just annoyed that people who are fed up of GoogleCars are deliberatly spying on him in his own back garden.

        **Moves Drone with Camera nearer a Tree**

      2. xerocred

        utter bollocks

        why don't they ban something that's actually dangerous instead of toys you can buy in toysrus in preparation of a crime(?) that hasn't happened yet?

    2. Jim 59
      Flame

      Re: Is this the same Eric Schmidt

      Schmidt / Google needs a good old Thatcher-style hand-bagging. Obama should borrow Michelle's heaviest "purse" and let rip.

      Next in line - London Banks, the British Leyland of the 21st Century. The should be hand-bagged with all available speed.

      Sorry about the off-topic rant. But seriously, man.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Is this the same Eric Schmidt

      >who said: "if you don’t have anything to hide, you have nothing to fear".

      Just another case of the person saying this always be on the positive side of information asymmetry. When the playing field gets evened out some is when the whining really begins.

    4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      I have a very easy solution..

      Just put a "Google Streetview" sticker on it before you let it hover over his house. Easy.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      @Chris

      And who thought it would be neat to provide us with (pretty high res.) aerial / satellite photo's which could almost identify your wife or girlfriend lying on a beach bench in your own backyard in her bikini ?

      Has everyone already forgotten about Google Earth and how much trouble many individuals had to go through before Google finally allowed the public to apply for blurring of pictures on their Google Earth environment ?

      What I see here is the Pot calling the Kettle black, and also a shameless display of sheer arrogance.

    6. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: Is this the same Eric Schmidt

      Pot. Kettle. Black.

      Sound familiar?

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Vimes

      Re: He is still correct @Eadon

      Except that this particular warrior is busy campaigning against war on one hand whilst still slaughtering innocents with the other...

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: He is still correct @Eadon

        There is a difference taking static photographs on a car traversing public roads anyone could see, and flying a drone over my garden to look through my windows.

        Does anyone know the legal ownership of the air above your land? If a person can hover 2" above my lawn are they 'in' my property? 2 feet? 20 feet?

        1. The First Dave
          Boffin

          Re: He is still correct @Eadon

          @JDX:

          But one of the biggest complaints regarding Street View is that the camera is about 9 feet up, and therefore able to see over the top of normal sized fences and hedges - just like a flying drone.

          1. JDX Gold badge

            @The First Dave

            "one of the biggest complaints regarding Street View is that the camera is about 9 feet up, and therefore able to see over the top of normal sized fences and hedges - just like a flying drone."

            Yes but that's no different from anyone driving a lorry or sitting on the top deck of a bus. If your garden/window is viewable from the road, but only in those situations, you should expect people can sometimes see in.

            If you have a secluded back garden or your house is not overlooked, you do not expect any possibility of anyone looking in.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: @JDX

              Yes but that's no different from anyone driving a lorry or sitting on the top deck of a bus.

              That's the same argument that has been used to defend Google's WiFi slurping: "anyone can do it." Could be, but not on the scale that Google does. By far. And there's the correlated data that Google tacks onto their pics and their collected SSIDs. Do you expect someone taking a snap from the top of a bus to put the exact address in the comments when uploading the pic to Flickr? And even with GPS tagging, you first have to go from your target addres to GPS data, then find any pics that match those tags and see if they're what you're after. Google hands it to you on a plate.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Stop

            Re: He is still correct @Eadon

            >But one of the biggest complaints regarding Street View is that the camera is about 9 feet up, and therefore able to see over the top of normal sized fences and hedges - just like a flying drone.

            Exactly the issue I had. Mr Google in his car drove down the side alleyway next to my house (not a public highway) and took lovely pictures of the back of my house, garage and garden, showing loads more detail than could be seen by just walking down the side of the house. They then incorrectly put them on the streetview map, so as you travelled down the public road outside my house, you magically jumped to the side alley and saw the images of the back of my house!

            (In fairness they did remove them all once I reported them as a privacy issue).

        2. Vimes

          Re: He is still correct @Eadon

          The common law distinguishes between two different types of airspace. The lower and Upper stratum.

          The lower stratum is concerned with the portion immediately above the land and interference with this air space would effect the landowner’s reasonable enjoyment of the land and the structures upon it.

          [...]

          S. 76 Civil Aviation Act 1982 states that ‘the lower stratum is unlikely to extend beyond an altitude of much more than 500 or 1,000 feet above roof level, this being roughly the minimum permissible distance for normal overflying by any aircraft’ (Rules of the Air Regulations 2007, Sch 1, s. 3(5)).

          [...]

          http://www.inbrief.co.uk/land-law/land-ownership.htm

          Not sure how reliable that is, but it would seem to imply that anything below 1,000 feet would be questionable where the law is concerned (not being a lawyer myself).

          1. Vimes

            Re: He is still correct @Eadon

            Damnit - I meant @JDX.

            Please whoever is reading this on the register's end: allow non-badge members to correct titles and typos.

            1. JDX Gold badge

              @Vimes

              Thanks. Simply banning drones from flying over peoples' houses would be fine in my view... if you live in a city you'd have to take it elsewhere to fly, in the country or a village you could fly it from your garden out across the fields.

              1. PatientOne

                Re: @Vimes

                @JDX

                There are perfectly good reasons for using a drone around a home. Examining guttering or roofing, for example: Much safer than going up a ladder. So banning drones from flying over or around houses? No. Banning them from flying over property without the owner's permission? Well, that's already covered, although it could do with clarification.

                Illegitimate uses of camera drone is covered by law also. It's no different than sticking a camera on a stick so you can see over a fence. Or climbing a tree to peer into your neighbors garden or home. Does mean the paparazzi will love them, though, considering what they get away with...

                Another issue might be: What happens if a drone enters your garden and gets damaged? Caught in a net or hit by a ball? Can you legitimately bring down an intruding drone if it enters your land? Possibly, but then the owner would have to explain what it was doing in your garden in the first place...

                1. JDX Gold badge

                  Re: @Vimes

                  "There are perfectly good reasons for using a drone around a home"

                  I never claimed otherwise. I suggested banning them flying over others' land would be a problem as would using them to spy into others gardens from above your land.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: correct titles and typos

              Delete the incorrect post, then post the corrected version. Simples.

          2. SuccessCase

            Re: He is still correct @Eadon

            @vimes, sounds like I can treat anything flying in the lower stratum over my property as a free clay pidgeon.

        3. PatientOne

          Re: He is still correct @Eadon

          @JDX

          I believe it's 500' above rooftop in the UK (Or to a height that is reasonable for your enjoyment of your land, apparently, but 500' seems to be the height most quoted).

          This is from a rather brief look on the internet. (http://www.inbrief.co.uk/land-law/land-ownership.htm being one source)

          You also have a reasonable right to privacy within the bounds of your own home, so if you have a 6' fence, someone flying a drone (or sticking a camera on an 8' pole) so as to take pictures of your garden (or through your windows) would be a breach of your rights and you can take them to court.

          If someone can see into your garden without a camera on a stick, or a drone, you can still complain, but it's less likely you'll succeed in court.

          However, I am not a lawyer: You'd be best asking one if you can find one down the pub who won't charge you a fortune for the answer :p

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. apjanes
          Pint

          Re: He is still correct @Eadon

          @Eadon. Perhaps your posts are getting so many down-votes because of you generally come across as a (rather unreasonable) anti-MS zealot, but for once I think you're right that we should not just dismiss Schmidt just because he is a big hypocrite. If we do, we fall into the trap of "Tu quoque" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque).

          By saying this I'm not necessarily agreeing with Mr. Schmidt's arguments (that requires a bit more thought on my part to come to my own conclusion), I am simply saying that we shouldn't dismiss his point of view out of hand.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: He is still correct

      To quote Prince Ludwig The Indestructible "You know, you talk too much, Eadon. I think it’s a case of werbal

      diarrhoea that you are having."

      1. Schultz

        verbal diarrhoea

        It's called "Logorrhea".

        Carry on

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Eadon, Re: He is still correct

      champion for privacy? More like strangling potential competition to his future business. Suppose they, one day, this wonderful do-no-evil Google decides to provide some overhead, low-flying pics (as he's sitting comfy with the occupants of a certain white painted house, and as outsourcing frenzy is anything but dead), and then, one of their pesky competitors, MS (if they're still around), or others, decide to use crowd-sourcing to come up with their alternative... sorry folks, not allowed.

      "all the drones belong to us", cause you know, you can't control individual folks who might decide to rain bombs on your own courtyard, while you can control the government, who might decide to do likewise, can't you? Sure thing you can! If you're still around after they drop their load...

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    4. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: He is still correct

      He is not campaigning for privacy he is campaigning for another them vs us rule.

      It would be like Esso or BP complaining about cow farts.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He is still correct -no he isn't

      A flying camera is not a weapon.

      Apart from that, do you really think this would deter terrorist (you know, the type that are happy to die for the cause) to use remote controlled devices?

      Neither will it prevent the 'authorities' using proper military grade survellience drones on you.

      So I think limiting these is ridiculous. That said like anything they should be operated with care... I'm sure existing laws exist to prevent dangerous or pervy applications.

  3. Frankee Llonnygog

    He's just upset that ...

    ... having spent so much money developing self-driving cars with a view to automating the street cam fleet, he's just realised that a competitor will be able to do it more easily, quickly, and cheaply with drones.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: He's just upset that ...

      His cars can't go into your back garden.

      1. Wize

        Re: He's just upset that ...

        "His cars can't go into your back garden."

        Both Google and Bing have a photo of my garden already.

      2. Vimes

        Re: He's just upset that ... @JDX

        They don't need to. The cameras are already high enough to see over the fences...

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: He's just upset that ... @JDX

          Your camera ha to be pretty bloody high to see into my back garden over the roof of my house. Google sees nothing a lorry driver doesn't.

  4. SW10
    Holmes

    I can, therefore I should

    Google's approach has tended to be: "We can, so we should. We'll pick up the pieces later."

    Schmidt is assuming that everyone else will do the same - in other words, because we can buzz a neighbour's BBQ then we will.

    Truth is, must of us think before acting and don't believe we should just because we can.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I can, therefore I should

      You have a very naive view of humanity. You don't think a guy who gets a drone for 'honourable' (nerdy) purposes who realises a hot woman sunbathes naked in her private garden or showers with the curtain open in her un-overlooked bathroom, would abuse that? It's very easy to say people won't BUY drones to perve, and I agree (mostly). But that doesn't mean they won't use them for that...

      1. Wize

        Re: I can, therefore I should

        Nothing stopping them nailing a video camera to a long stick and viewing that way through a window.

        I think it would be cool to have one. Could inspect my roof/guttering as well as shooting some nice flypast views (away from houses).

        Though, because there will always be one pervert out there, its going to restrict the rest of us normal people.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can, therefore I should

          @ Wize ...

          Shhh. If you're not careful they'll ban sticks.

          1. Rugster
            Facepalm

            Re: I can, therefore I should

            @ Pete H

            Also, don't use rectangular sticks with rounded corners. The shit will really hit the fan then.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can, therefore I should

          It is indeed a handy way to get a stills shot from a better vantage point... over a tall wall... above some other obstruction.. something in distance isn't quite visible but a few more feet of elevation will help.. a better view for all sorts of reasons...

          Put camera on tripod, extend to max length.

          Keep tripod legs together, and use as a long 'stick'.

          Use wide angle. Press 5 or 10 second timer... hoist camera up high, it takes shot.

          Bonus points for having a tilt-n-twist screen you can angle downwards so you can roughly check the framing.

      2. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: I can, therefore I should

        @jdx: with your fit woman example where do you draw the line? If I could be upstairs in my house ogling her or hovering a drone above my property is that still allowed as long as I'm not taking photos or video? Is it only wrong if her property isn't naturally overlooked? Where's the line?

        As regards other comments about google cars only taking images of what is publicly viewable I believe that has been held to not be true in several jurisdictions due to the pole extending from the roof of the vehicle giving it greater than normal viewing height.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          @Mark 65

          "@jdx: with your fit woman example where do you draw the line? If I could be upstairs in my house ogling her or hovering a drone above my property is that still allowed"

          If you could see her from your house, she can expect to be observed and should shut her curtains.

          Hovering a drone high above your own land... well you would not be allowed to build a high viewing platform on your garden which allows you to overlook neighbours, as far as I understand it, so I'd say this falls into that category.

      3. SW10

        Re: I can, therefore I should

        You *can* do more things like that with the camera on your mobe already.

        Based on the logic of your post, should we assume you *do* do such things?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ironing is delicious

    I wonder if he was showing the Norks how to use google maps to pick suitable targets when he was over there!

  6. Gordon Pryra

    So few comments?

    Surely this kind of story is a gold mine for commentards?

    I think this is a case of glass houses and throwing stones. Im betting hes got a reporter doing exactly this and he doesn't like it.

    People do not get rich like him by playing by the same rules as the little people. After a while, the truly powerful people really do live in ivory towers and the really don't see the hypocrisy in their statements.

    Maybe if the reporter used paint to blur out the faces on the picture? After all, he kindly did the same to the picture of my mother falling out of her car outside her house, which was nice, she loved that being shown to millions.

    Or maybe the people taking snaps of his back garden could publish them all online and then give him an opt-out per image ? Seems fair tbh

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: So few comments?

      I think this is a case of glass houses and throwing stones. Im betting hes got a reporter doing exactly this and he doesn't like it.

      Probably that. But aside from the downright offensiveness of Schmidt being the one to say this, he is correct in this case. I'll just be keeping a very close eye on whether his actions match his rhetoric.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: So few comments?

        No, he's utterly wrong.

        Taking photos that deliberately invade the privacy of another is already illegal in most jurisdictions.

        For example, one could stand on a hill with a really long lens to take pictures of somebody topless sunbathing in a private area - and it would be against the law.

        It would break exactly the same law to use any other technology to get that same photo.

        - Oddly, you'd get caught more easily if you used a drone - they are noisier and have less loiter time than a bloke with a monopod and 1m lens.

        Banning drone photography would be fundamentally stupid - it's the same as banning cameras because you might hold one up over a fence.

        It is the photo itself which could invade one's privacy, not the means used to take it.

        Apart from the "fun police" aspect, there are many business opportunities opened up by using them - the most obvious utilitarian example being safe roofing and gutter inspections.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: So few comments?

          "Banning drone photography would be fundamentally stupid - it's the same as banning cameras because you might hold one up over a fence."

          ...or even arresting people with cameras for being too tall? Oh...wait...

    2. cortland
      Black Helicopters

      Re: So few comments?

      Can we watch as the people in grass houses stow thrones?

  7. El Presidente
    Facepalm

    Monday morning

    And already my WTF meter has gone off the scale.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Monday morning

      You need an intelligent WTF meter that can recalibrate automatically when the article is about Google.

  8. The Vociferous Time Waster
    FAIL

    @Gordon

    This is obvious commentbait so not worth inflating El Reg's comment stats over.

    1. b166er

      Re: @Gordon

      How ironic then, that you just did :)

  9. Ross K
    WTF?

    You Wot?

    Mr. Pot Meet Mr. Kettle....

    1. xyz

      Re: You Wot?

      Just what I was thinking...mind you I suppose if they were running Android and had a billboard on the side then that would be OK then...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    he comes from silicon valley ... they have some strange ideas on privacy their ... e.g. seem to recall that in Cupertino you are only allowed to build single storey residential houses so that you can't look out of an upper floor window into your neihgbours "yard"

  11. Chairo

    Methinks the world can deal with this problem

    once it turns out to really be a problem.

    Up to then we should busy ourselves with more pressing items at hand - like Google's privacy policy, for example.

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Celebrity self interest

    > cheap camera-toting aircraft can be used by anyone from terrorists to quarrelling neighbours:

    I think his major, probably only, reason for getting upset is that the paparazzi will start flying drones over his property and start invading his privacy. He obviously has no interest in anybody else's privacy, but when it comes "home" it's a different matter entirely.

    Though to be fair, it's only a short journey from loading a camera onto a drone and flying it over his heavily guarded and impenetrable walls, to loading a gun onto the same ...

    1. wowfood

      Re: Celebrity self interest

      It's probably more a case of

      'We had to do all of this shit which cost a lot of money to get around the 'you're invading peoples privacy' stuff, which went atop license fees to take those pics in the first place. And now you're letting tom dick and harry go around with cheap consumer drones doing all the things you said we couldn't do... And without having to pay a license fee for it!"

      Which to a degree I can go with. There's a difference between buying worldwide pics which infringe on privacy without the intention to do so, and deliverately flying a drone to your neighbours bathroom window that the leave open while they're in the shower.

    2. Wize

      Re: Celebrity self interest

      "Though to be fair, it's only a short journey from loading a camera onto a drone and flying it over his heavily guarded and impenetrable walls, to loading a gun onto the same ..."

      How much weight can these drones take? Remote controlled bank robbery anyone?

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Celebrity self interest

        If someone flies a drone into your property, I wonder if you're allowed to shoot it down - maybe yanks will start buying shotguns rather than pistols.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Celebrity self interest

          If someone flies a drone into your property, I wonder if you're allowed to shoot it down

          "I'm into conceptual art, you know, nailing water kettles to a board, letting concrete flow down the stairs, that kind of stuff. Right now I'm experimenting with firing paintball pellets up into the air, and have them fall on this canvas. And I seem to have hit some helicopter-thingie that apparently was flying overhead."

  13. Badvok
    Meh

    I don't know what the law's like in the US but I think here in the UK we are already adequately covered with the trespass (you own airspace up to about 500ft above your own land) and invasion of privacy laws (reasonable expectation of privacy in a fenced/walled garden).

    1. JDX Gold badge

      That doesn't help if sale of drones is unregulated and millions of the things start being used in this illegal manner... how is PC Plod going to tell who is operating the damn thing when someone reports it keeps bothering them? Hell how's he going to tell who is controlling it if he happens to be there when the drone appears? Users could fly the thing to knock off the copper's helmet with impunity!!

      Though I want a drone, I can see blocking them at source is potentially the way this might go. Thought waiting for it to BE a problem first would be preferable in case it's very rare.

  14. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Stop

    Shares?

    He probably owns shares in all the drone manufacturers. Now all merkins will be rushing out to buy one before they're banned.

    Buy three assault rifles and get a free drone?

  15. Rampant Spaniel

    Isn't this already covered by law. It's illegal to take pictures of people on private property, in the air above would include this. It is also illegal to take pictures of people in public places where there is an expectation of privacy. The same goes for video. Buzzing a neighbours bbq with a camera equipped drone would contravene the law anyway right? I am not a lawyer, but as a photographer I do hope I understand this part of the law, at least for a couple of countries.

    There are some iffy areas such as taking pictures of people on the private property from a public place, but this is often covered by voyerism. Personally I'm not all that bothered, saves on clay pidgeons :-)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    one rule for some!!!!

    Taking photos of front doors are fine, unless you live in a gated or private road.

  17. MrXavia
    Black Helicopters

    I have no problem with people flying drones in public areas or on their own property or with permission of the land owner..BUT if they fly over my property, expect to be prosecuted or to have your drone shot down by mine...

    I am pretty sure we have laws to stop this, I.E. while I can put up cameras on my property and record anything I damn well like, its my property and its my choice.

    BUT if you fly over my garden with a drone and spy on me in my garden, then your breaking laws, I have an expectation of privacy in my garden! and you should expect your drone to be taken down, I expect drones are as susceptible to water guns as cats & rabbits are! (now to start building my automated defences!)

    1. Don Jefe

      The law is only being broken if the aircraft is at less than 500ft altitude. If it is above that then you're out of luck.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Interesting to know, so if I want to spy on someone I must fly the drone higher than 500ft with a powerful telephoto lens!

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Badvok
            Big Brother

            Re: Zoom - ENHANCE ENHANCE

            "Also, the drone doesn't have to be directly vertically positioned above your house to spy on you, it can angle itself diagonally by hovering above a public road so what then?"

            You fall back on your reasonable expectation of privacy and sue the buggers.

  18. Dave 126 Silver badge

    > cheap camera-toting aircraft can be used by anyone from terrorists to quarrelling neighbours

    Terrorist A: So, we want to to blow up a crowd of people here and inflict a lot of casualties, but where best to plant the bomb?

    Terrorist B: I know! I know! We could use an RC quadropter with a video camera to survey the area first.

    Terrorist A: Nah, we can't do that, that would be illegal.

    Um, how would any legislation work work, exactly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      badly.

      Just as you suppose..

      1. Sudden Genesis
        Facepalm

        Re: badly.

        If he has his way, we might well wind up with tighter RC toy controls than gun legislation...

  19. Sudden Genesis

    You're thinking of flying a drone?

    But Schmidt says the risks are unknown

    Sure, Google took pics

    But yours they would nix

    It seems like they cast the first stone

  20. Colin Miller

    Has someone been buzzing his back garden and releasing the photos?

  21. Thomas 4

    Hmmm

    Schmidt: "Officer, I wish to make a complaint. Someone was flying a drone around my house this afternoon. It is a shameless violation of my privacy!"

    Officer: "Sir, how do you know this? Wouldn't you have been at work?"

    Schmidt: "I saw it on a Streetview photo."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      Well I'd be saying I caught it on my CCTV...

  22. Armando 123
    Big Brother

    Well good

    So now my father can sue Schmidt because the google street view of his house was taken without permission, shows an image of my father (again, no permission granted), and the make/model/color of a car with a partial plate.

    Physician, heal thyself or naff off.

    1. Armando 123

      Re: Well good

      All that being said, Obama's proposal for domestic drone use is a very serious and worrying thing. The US government does not have a great track record with respect to privacy, and add in that our current prez is an Ivy Leaguer, former wall streeter, Chicago machine politician, and lawyer, and you can see why I have my doubts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well good

      Was it visible from a public place? if so then why care? anyone could wonder down the road and take a look....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well good

        So you genuinely see no difference between an individual looking at something and a global internet corporation publishing that thing on the web? No wonder you don't want a name associated with that post...

  23. andy gibson

    Nothing new

    This isn't a new phenomenon though. People have been hooking cameras up to kites and remote controlled helicopters for decades.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Nothing new

      True, but it's only recently become a mass consumable cheap device anyone can buy off the shelf. A few people doing it, it can be treated under existing laws. Millions doing it, easier to bring in specific legislation.

  24. Crisp Silver badge

    Eric Schmidt has demanded tough rules on civilians flying surveillance drones

    Screw you.

    This is a kite.

    1. Anonymous C0ward

      Re: Eric Schmidt has demanded tough rules on civilians flying surveillance drones

      That's a thought. Stick a Raspberry Pi on there with a camera.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    do as i say

    not as i do.

    perhaps he's just paranoid he'll wake up one morning to find his windows filled with buzzing flying gizmos filming him in his Y-fronts brushing his teeth.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  26. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Same old same-old

    The only difference between spying on your neighbours with a drone and doing it by attaching a camera to a long stick or climbing a tree or using a telephoto lens or a hole in the party wall is that it's marginally more convenient. The laws that apply to the current peeping Tom technologies will still apply. The same applies to the nuisance and safety risk that you can cause with a drone.

    Believing that readily-available drones change things is a classic example of technology fixation.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is true, that you can build a drone relatively cheaply with something like a GoPro (ie DJI Phantom ~£500), but the image quality is just not up to spying on people, let alone through windows, you would have to be practically on top of them to get any detail.

    For serious spying you would need something capable of lifting and controlling a DSLR with telephoto and also relaying live video (FPV) back to the user, this is where the cost starts to exceed anyone but the most determined spy. (something like a Vulcan MANTIS 900, and then you need to add the cost of camera and FPV gear)

    // anon, because...

    1. moiety

      Cheaper than that: A Parrot 2 is £260-ish on eBay right now; comes ready to go with 720p video and you can fly it from your iThing or Android tablet/phone. Relays live video back to the device, to be stored there or on an onboard USB stick.

      I had a look at the parts and I reckon (after a fairly cursory look) that you could put together something a little more industrial (and with full-fat 1080p video) for somewhere in the £150-200 region. More if you want night-vision, of course.

      Of course all this FUD is purest bollocks - drones uniformly sound like a swarm of bees and it would be absolutely impossible to stalk someone without them knowing about it (without getting into *major* cost for high-res kit and the oomph to lift it). With 'domestic' dronery if it's close enough to do the stalker any good; the stalkee knows all about it.

  28. John H Woods Silver badge

    Fun new business opportunity...

    Anti-drone drones. Pestered by nosey neighbours drones? We'll hunt it down and you can have the DVD of the engagement to cherish and keep ...

    1. Anonymous C0ward
      Mushroom

      Arms race

      The next thing you know, the Russians will have built a nuclear-powered one.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    I hope they become commonplace.

    Nimble, airborne targets are the most fun.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK...translation.

    Mr. (or is it Übersturmbahnführer by now) Schmidt is NOT displeased because not everyone can afford a fleet of cars and trucks to drive through every street and film and photograph your home (or even inside it, if your curtains are not drawn) or buy hi-res areal shots of your garden and whoever is in it. He can do that and you can't so that's OK.

    He IS, however, displeased because everyone (or nearly) CAN afford a 100$ toy with a 50$ camera strapped to it and fly it over HIS garden, or hover in front of HIS windows, and take snaps and post them on the interwebs. He finds this utterly unacceptable. And you're not even making money from it. Who do you think you are.

    1. harmjschoonhoven
      Headmaster

      Re: OK...translation.

      Obersturmbannführer (as in "Banner") not Übersturmbahnführer (as in "Eisenbahn").

      See http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmbannf%C3%BChrer. Upvoted you anyway.

  31. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Media coverage

    The media coverage of this is quite incredible. Few (any?) seem able to question it but just jump straight on the 'its something new and there is an excuse now to ban it, ban it, ban it, ban the new, burn the heretic' bandwagon.

    Its not as if we can be doing something in our gardens these days without being spied on (unless we are a multi-millionaire anyway) - the housing estate (or is the battery cages) the uk people are forced now to endure are built so on top of each other that even if the garden has enough room to put a sun lounger in then it is overlooked by at least 5 houses.

    Besides, you've been able to buy small cameras and remote control planes for a long time, easy to put them together, and don't forget the little rockets and parachute toys you can buy that are capable of carrying a camera (http://gyroscope.com/d.asp?product=ROCKVIDEO is just one of a number)

  32. nuclearstar

    Double Standards

    Pretty much double standards, google has a front picture of my house, they also have an aerial view, and when you zoom in closer, they have a 3D view from 4 different angles, bing has a crapper version of that.

    I don't really care that much to be honest. If someone flies a drone in my garden and peer into my rooms, I am going to get a baseball bat and smash it to bits.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Double Standards

      Actually, just bring it down somehow (air rifle pellet through the blades should do it) then sell the parts on Ebay. Not point in destroying when you can make some money.

  33. Velv Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Flying toys are not new. I've still got my fathers Frog (with petrol engine) from well before I was born (I think he got it in the late 1940s)

    So all this talk of "flying over my property" is just a red herring as the issue of flying objects has been around a LONG time. Banning flying objects is therefore pointless.

    So it comes down once again to privacy laws and their existence and application - should you have the right to a private life? If the law covers a photographer with a long lens, then it covers camera equipped flying objects. If the law doesn't cover photographers....

  34. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    This doesn't require an irony detector....

    Hypocrisy detector yes, irony no.....

    Schmidt has already demonstrated that he believes that personal privacy is not for "little people". See for example his childish boycott of CNet that was mentioned in the article.

    Some people have principles that become highly malleable in the presence of large amounts of money, and Eric Schmidt is one of them.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please don't ban them...

    ... I'm actually looking forward to having a bit of fun with those and some radio jamming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please don't ban them...

      Ssh, don't mention that, you'll annoy the hams.

  36. TheWeddingPhotographer

    Buy a room in the Burj Khalifa

    Or.. buy a room in the Burj Khalifa, many of them re above 500M!

    If you want privacy, buy curtains, good ones

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Supreme irony

    I am still enjoying the supreme irony of the big G banning someone for ..... using google

  38. C-N
    Joke

    April 1st?

    He's two weeks late with this gag. Maybe someone messed with his Google Calendar.

  39. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Fud for thought...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/9989300/Couple-caught-having-public-sex-on-Google-Street-View.html

  40. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Shoot it

    If a drone started circling over my house, I'd get a slingshot and shoot it down. Anything buzzing over my property is mine for the taking. (Given I'm in the good ol' USA, my lot rent agreement does specifically prohibit shooting off guns outside, since otherwise it'd technically be allowed by default.)

  41. wildhorsesfilm

    Pot Calling the Kettle Black

    I agree with the others that it is merely Eric feeling that others might "infringe" on his apparent sole god-given right to invade people's privacy.

    It is ludicrous to think any commercially available drone could "flies over your house all day." They can barely stay aloft 10 to 15 minutes at best.

    It is an ignorant statement. And he probably is sad he hadn't thought of a way to commercially deploy drones to swoop in and blare an advertisement at you whilst you were in your backyard.

  42. Chad Steele

    This coming from the company that stole private wifi data and took pictures of people without permission.

    Google Ceo has ZERO credibility.

    He is just a criminal that wants to be able to hide his actions.

  43. bulawayo.it.guy
    Facepalm

    Drone future

    Drone porn, coming soon!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "ok, glass, record a video."

    What a hypocrite...

  45. apjanes
    WTF?

    But wait a minute....

    Isn't this debate taking place in America? Isn't that the same America where it is legal to own firearms to defend yourself and your property? How close does a drone have to be to a: take photos that would reasonably invade privacy and, b: be shot out of the sky?!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remotes Kill

    If I wish to mount a sub machine gun on a drone for self protection it's my business only!

  47. Fink-Nottle
    Thumb Up

    Google Drones

    The geek in me thinks it would be kinda cool if a swarm of autonomous Google drones were to take the place of street view cars - especially if they announced 'A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies' at regular intervals.

  48. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The biter bit?

    Your legal expectation of privacy has already been watered down by Google Streetview. Watered down legally because Streetview has been challenged in the courts and their action upheld.

    So, if Google are to campaign for a ban on flying thingies with cameras, I can well imagine that here in the UK at least, any new law banning remote flying camera operations will likely be kneejerk, wooly and wide ranging. It will almost certainly cause Streetview to be in violation of that new law. This may well lead to Streetview being blocked until Google can spend more money challenging it in courrt.

  49. Maharg
    Big Brother

    Quote

    "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place"

  50. davtom

    Solution is simple. Just use your Android phone to take control of the drone!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019