back to article Attack of the drones: ‘Nefarious’ private use rising, says top Blighty copper

A House of Lords committee has been told that while civilians are “undoubtedly” using drones to get up to no good, it was pretty difficult to do anything about it. Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth of the Metropolitan Police told the EU Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment sub-committee that drones, known as Remotely …

  1. Anomalous Cowshed

    Nefarious private use of drones

    Terrorists ahoy, me hearties!!!

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Nefarious private use of drones

      More likely "Estate Agents Ahoy!"

      http://bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30080972

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Nefarious private use of drones

        Nominal Romanians checking out dog presence and access possibilities from the control van, more like.

  2. Anomalous Cowshed

    Or - STOP PRESS!!!

    Bee Stings Man; Beekeeper Arrested In Sleepy Surrey Town For Nefarious Use Of Drones.

    Police raided the farm where the attack had taken place and arrested the farmer and his children, who were found in possession of various items of suspicious electronic equipment, including a mobile phone with a camera on it, an AA battery and a pair of earphones, items which, although commonplace, might also be used for nefarious purposes.

    "We are determined to protect the great British public from all occurrences of nefariousness, actual or potential, whatever the grammatical complexity involved" said Police Spokesman Fred Plod.

    1. Ted Treen
      Childcatcher

      Re: Or - STOP PRESS!!!

      Fred Plod further went on to define 'nefariousness' as anything being done without Plod's explicit permission, or of which Plod doesn't approve, or which Plod doesn't understand, or which smacks dangerously of individual freedom.

      Furthermore, it is Plod's intention to change the UK legal system from one where everything is permitted, except that which is expressly prohibited into one in which everything is prohibited, except that which is expressly permitted.

      It is to safeguard your children and foil the terrorists, of course.

      1. Synonymous Howard

        Re: Or - STOP PRESS!!!

        Don't worry, if too many people break the rules, the police will simply ignore it as it upsets the crime stats and just causes more to paperwork ... at least 20% of the time anyway (see today's big news story on iffy crime recording).

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Or - STOP PRESS!!!

          That's the advantage of the new rules - the police wouldn't have to actually do anything they would just email out fines to anyone who hadn't renewed their bee license.

          Then they would extend this to people who hadn't returned a mandatory stored-off-hive form if they didn't have any bees.

      2. Andrew Meredith

        Re: Or - STOP PRESS!!!

        "Furthermore, it is Plod's intention to change the UK legal system from one where everything is permitted, except that which is expressly prohibited into one in which everything is prohibited, except that which is expressly permitted."

        So switch the UK from our post Magna Carta "Common Law" system to something like the EU's Napoleonic "Civil Law" system.

        Erm .. bit late on that one, it's been happening for years !

    2. Mike Banahan

      Re: Or - STOP PRESS!!!

      'Bee stings man' - whilst I agree with the sentiment, drones can't sting, at least honey-bee drones can't. The female bee's stinger is a modified version of what the drone uses to mate with, unless memory has totally failed. I draw a veil over the rest. And indeed my head when I go anywhere near the bees.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prison Contraband

    Here in the US we have an issue already with drones smuggling contraband into jails and prisons. Phones, dope, you name it. Just wait until the lifting capacity increases! All you have to do is drop it over the wall in the yard.

    1. Ben Norris

      Re: Prison Contraband

      In the UK we invented a wonderous new technology known as netting.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Prison Contraband

        But that would cut into the profit margin of US corporate run prisons.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Prison Contraband

          Prison Delivery as a Service?

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Prison Contraband

      Still got a long way to go to beat a trebuchet for payload

  4. Buzzword

    Fight fire with fire

    The police need a new squadron, the Flying (Remotely) Squad. They'll have their own attack drones, maybe some trained hawks too, who can force a malevolent drone out of the sky. Just as the police get super-fast cars to chase down us ordinary folk, so too they need killer drones to defeat the menace of unauthorised civilian drone flights.

    I, for one, welcome our encroaching police state.

    1. Duffy Moon

      Re: Fight fire with fire

      As seen on the recent episode of South Park.

      Now we all have to wear hard hats over our tinfoil ones.

  5. AMBxx Silver badge

    Blocker

    Has anyone created a signal blocker? Easy enough to bring them down then.

    Must admit, I'm more worried about our crazy councils using them to spy on us all - much less paperwork than RIPA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blocker

      Must admit, my first thought was that I'm far more concerned with authorities mis-using them, and delighted that something exists which upsets the police because they can't control it.

    2. Keven E.

      Re: Blocker

      I'd always figured I'd end up getting a conceal and carry permit so I can defend myself from the coming "thief drones" with a fuselage mounted cannon... DRONE: "This is a stick-up. Put the lotion... I mean, wallet in the basket, or I'll shoot".

      I figure I have a split second to drop and roll and fire, yet, I realize now all I'll need is either signal blocker or a chain mail glove to just grab it out of the air. Or, perhaps, a netting launch gun... or maybe a really big fly swatter...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Blocker

        Finally a use for that 88mm that granddad brought back from the war

    3. TechDrone
      Flame

      Re: Blocker

      I think modern radio control planes uses standard wi-fi and you can find info on blocking that easily enough. Geting it to work is another matter though. Older planes was easy to mess with - all you needed was a RC transmitter and the right crystal (or if you had a posh set you just adjusted an internal setting) hence most clubs had very strict rules about who used which channel and when.

      1. Rob Crawford

        Re: Blocker

        No they don't use standard wifi

        1. handle

          Re: Blocker

          You'd have to block GPS as well, as decent ones fly back to launch point on signal loss.

          1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

            Re: Blocker

            .....thus leading authorities to the nefarious operator.

        2. PC Paul

          Re: Blocker

          Correct, *but* they do use spread spectrum of various flavours all over the 2.4GHz band, so a broad spectrum wifi jammer would still screw them up. Also the video feed back to the FPV goggles (if they have one) is quite likely to be 5GHz so they could still watch it crash ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Blocker

            @PC Paul

            Wifi jamming - mmm, that sounds legal.

            Yes officer, I caused the drone to crash on the victims head, but it was him over there actually flying it....why are you arresting me?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Blocker

            > so a broad spectrum wifi jammer would still screw them up

            It could possibly prevent control, however, mine (arducopter) has a failsafe, so in the event of the signal being lost/jammed it returns to it's launch location and lands by itself.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    FFS...

    "often showing the offences after they’ve actually occurred, thereby leaving us very little opportunity to subsequently investigate,”

    Well, despite your best efforts to lock people up BEFORE they have committed an offence, that tends to be what happens.

    Clueless mouthpiece

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: FFS...

      "Well, despite your best efforts to lock people up BEFORE they have committed an offence, that tends to be what happens."

      Maybe it's just badly worded, but I think he was referring to how difficult it is to catch them in the act or even to catch them when Police are called to an "incident" as referenced in the article. There's certainly been stories of speeders and dangerous drivers being caught after posting videos of their exploits on YouTube.

      More importantly, when does a remote controlled flying object become liable to the current regulations? What about those tiny cheap helicopters you can buy in gadget shops? Some even stream video back to your phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS...

        My reading of the regs (and I hope I'm wrong) are that the 'toy' ones (less than Xkgs) are also covered and if they have cameras then (regardless of commercial use or not) they must be used away from built up areas and must be under direct eyeline view of the 'pilot' at all times. If you sell or receive reward for any video/audio recordings then you need a commercial licence.

        In fact the regs appear to be so wide ranging that it is putting me off using any drone except in an open 'wilderness' type area!

        1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

          Re: FFS...

          You'll be fine flying any drone for pleasure provided it weighs less than 7Kg, you don't fly it above 400ft AGL, within an airfield's Air Traffic Zone, in controlled airspace or anywhere close to houses or people and it must be in clear line of sight for the pilot at all times. You can even carry a camera provided its used purely for your own enjoyment: sell an image and you're doing airwork, which needs licences, type approval for the drone and a qualified pilot. These are exactly the same rules that apply to any model aircraft.

          CAP 658 lays down the rules for flying model aircraft, UAVs and drones in the UK. It covers both private and commercial use. You can find it here:

          http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP658%204%20Edition%20Amend%201%20June%202013.pdf

          or go to http://www.caa.co.uk and search for CAP658.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: FFS...

            Ta.

            Looks like ballons are not covered though, that's good. Tethered would be best for aerial photography :-)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: FFS...

            > don't fly it above 400ft AGL

            I would just like to add that for FPV flying the altitude limit is now 1000ft AGL and you must have a competent observer who maintains LOS with the aircraft.

  7. Rob Crawford

    Vagueness followed by a "Dear Governement give us money to combat this menace" letter

    House of Lords committee has been told that while civilians are “undoubtedly” using drones to get up to no good

    Certainly we are looking at the emergence of this technology, that we believe undoubtedly creates opportunities for negligent, reckless or malicious use,”

    we have undoubtedly seen it used to harass people

    So how vague can you get?

    Err apart from people flying them in stupid places nobody has heard of anybody being harassed (apart from lunatics who claim it's illegal to fly a multirotor regardless of a camera being attached)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vagueness followed by a "Dear Governement give us money to combat this menace" letter

      It's even more vague than that ... the committee was told that people mostly in other countries are doing things that the Met considers improper.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How heavy ?!

    Seven kg ?! It costs an awful lot to get that much weight into the air - pretty sure you could afford enough real rented women to keep your filthy desires at bay if you were trying to lift that much.

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: How heavy ?!

      Prostitution is just as illegal as being a peeping tom.

      I don't know why. It just is.

      1. Ted Treen
        Boffin

        @Crisp

        Actually unless they've changed the law in the last few years I seem to recall that prostitution itself isn't illegal in the UK, although I'm open to correction (fnarr, fnarr).

        However, what is illegal is:-

        a) Living wholly or partly on the earnings of prostitution

        b) Soliciting for the purposes of prostitution

        c) Permitting premises to be used for the purposes of prostitution

        Natch, in true Brit style, the laws make it impossible to legally indulge in a legal pastime. Don'ch just lurve lawyers?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Crisp

          " Don'ch just lurve lawyers?"

          It is my impression that Catch-22 laws are made by single-issue groups with a narrow focus - lobbying politicians eager for votes. The drafts get rushed through Parliament and it is left to the Appeal Courts to try to limit the damage to innocent people.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Crisp

          The exchange of hard currency for sexual favours has long been legal in the UK. The laws that exist are aimed at pimps, madams, cerb crawling, trafficing, slavery and places of ill repute rather than the actual exchange of "goods".

          This in my mind is an enlightened attitude, however in my previous career as a provider of IT and website services to "ladies of negotiable affection", I'm sure a case could have been made for me "living off immoral earnings", which to me made it all the sweeter! Most of my clients were impressive business-women (in more ways than one!) and most of them even paid their taxes! They were more likely to be investigated by HMRC than the police!

          Ahem, anon, natch!

  9. Spider

    Just a little more law...

    All we need to combat this new threat to your freedom and safety is a few more little teeny tiny laws that infringe liberty. What? Existing laws? no siree, we've not got any of them that we could be using... besides that would be horribly complex. Just bung us a few more laws we can use for blanketing anything we don't approve of.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a little more law...

      "Just bung us a few more laws we can use for blanketing anything we don't approve of."

      The Holy Grail in Police circles - apparently known as a Martini law: "Anyone, Any time, Any place".

      First saw that expression used by a retired police officer referring to the low thresholds of evidence that were being touted in the Sexual Offences Bill 2003. The Police argument was that proving intent to "cause alarm or distress" was too difficult - so just prosecute any nudity. They also threw in the requirement that it could theoretically cause "alarm or distress" to the most vulnerable hypothetical person imaginable - even if no one saw it except the police officer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a little more law...

        Yeah British justice, envy of the world....

        And the West is still trying to work out why the Russians have decided that following international law is a mugs game when they can just follow the US/UK example.

  10. Joefish
    Black Helicopters

    'Paedoflies Everywhere Spying on Your Private Activities'.

    Of course they're already being used extensively to invade leisure parks that ban childless adults for obviously being paedos. It must be true; you just read it right here on the internet. And to prove it, here's some pictures our reporter took earlier of two unsuspecting teenage...

    Yep, you're ahead of me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Paedoflies Everywhere Spying on Your Private Activities'.

      Upvote for "Paedoflies", if you could only get another few fear keywords in there you'd get a contract with the gov, maybe even your own law.

      Well done.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Paedoflies Everywhere Spying on Your Private Activities'.

        Terrorist paedos smoking cigarettes with backpacks and hoodies.

        That ought to cover it.

  11. Robin Bradshaw

    Where can I get their magic batterys that allow more than about 15 mins of flight time and their fantastic propellers that allow flight without the model aircraft sounding like a million angry bees that make all this nefarious use practical?

    A camera on a stick is a more realistic threat model for peering in upper floor windows, when are we going to see a house of lords committee on the threat posed by sticks and gaffer tape?

    Could we not just go back to calling them model aircraft and stop worrying?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      I suppose the next thing you'll want is to stop calling it a "hashtag" and go back to "octothorp" or "number sign!"

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/13/hashtag_added_to_the_oed/

      (I agree with you Robin. upvoted)

      1. 404 Silver badge

        I thought it was a pound sign?

        really.

  12. Salts

    That's Because...

    The public have them, the armed forces have them and they(the police) have only just had them for six months or so and really want more drones, to help fight, oh you know the usual suspects.

    Prediction, first major incident of person hurt in crowded area by drone falling out of the sky, will be caused by a police drone.

    Anyway, when it counts(sorry the link is daily mail:-( the police seem to be able to prosecute, as said by others they just want more laws.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2800444/drones-reach-premier-league-man-arrested-device-flown-manchester-city-vs-tottenham.html

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: That's Because...

      More likely the FA was up in arms with unauthorised telecasting of the match

      1. TheWeddingPhotographer

        Re: That's Because...

        Too true...

  13. Eponymous Cowherd
    Facepalm

    Undoubtedly.

    Civilians are using drones to get up to no good, are they?

    What? Just like certain "civilians" use cars, vans, bicycles, phones, computers, kItchen knives, pickaxes, etc, etc, etc, to "get up to no good".

    Ban them all, I say!!!

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Undoubtedly.

      Some of then even have the nerve to use legs!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Undoubtedly.

        "Some of then even have the nerve to use legs!"

        Cunning, that.

        1. Eponymous Cowherd
          Coat

          Re: Undoubtedly.

          Some even manage to get up to no good without legs.

  14. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I'm thinking The Register could, instead of just providing the usual fireplace in which to allow the conflagration of people's outrage to blaze, provide some solid leadership and pointing of the way to the Rest Of Europe by running a competition to design the rebus-onna-pole needed to warn would-be snoops that they are entering a No Drone Zone.

    My first attempt would be a red circle on a white background, said circle surrounding a horizontal black two-bladed propeller with a stylized eye below it, and a red diagonal bar o'er all.

  15. Elmer Phud

    some sort of . . .

    . . . focussed EMP device would do the trick.

    They were in the magazines and books I read as a youngster, everyone had a ray-gun.

  16. Yugguy

    Could be fun

    I don't mind drones, as long as I'm allowed to try and take them down by whatever is at hand.

    If they're low enough a high-pressure water hose could do it.

    Or good old-fashioned rock throwing.

    Or petrol and washing powder.

    Could be a giggle.

    Hmm, what's that siren noise and why are there lots of black vans pulling up outside?

    1. hapticz

      Re: Could be fun

      a slingshot made from excess surgical tube, some leather, a sturdy Y branch cut from a nearby pear tree and a few choice stones from the gravel driveup will do. takes only a few days practice to get comfortable and accurate. it's silent, so it wont alarm the neignbors, can be tossed into the fireplace on arrival of officers, and can be used to send secret messages to your sweetheart across the wall. evades most cell tower monitoring, radio intercepts and avoids most requirements for registration.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Could be fun

        Reminds me of that Larry Niven story, about the park in the future monitored by drones, but then someone takes out the drones...

  17. Tom 38 Silver badge

    undoubtedly

    undoubtedly

    ʌnˈdaʊtɪdli

    adverb

    without doubt; certainly. Also newspeak "something which must be going on because we've thought of it"

  18. Chris G Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Leftpondians have this:

    http://www.luckygunner.com/12ga-3-uranium-drone-load-tacnition-5-rounds

    Advertised depleted uranium shotgun rounds for anti drone use.

    It was actually an April 1 joke but they had a lot of people trying to order them.

    Personally short of using No 10 bird shot with a 12 bore, I think a handful of fishing line ,a couple of weights and a catapult, could do the trick.

    Mind you then the fuzz would probably want to do you for criminal damage while defending your privacy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Leftpondians have this:

      "Mind you then the fuzz would probably want to do you for criminal damage while defending your privacy."

      Reminds me of the potential for someone to be prosecuted for "flashing" by being naked inside their house while visible from outside - and someone else seeing them through the window then being prosecuted for "voyeurism".

      1. hapticz

        Re: Leftpondians have this:

        not long ago, i was naked in my home on a warm summer Tuesday morning. my front inner door was open to let the summer light in, the screen shut to prevent insects. housework is easier without clothes on. i was busy doing my dishes at the kitchen sink, nearly a straight view from the front entry, and i hear a knock on the door. i turned to see two wonderful Jehovah Witness visitors, a spiffy dressed male and a classy dressed woman, gazing in upon my bareness, i danced a few steps out of view and asked them what they wanted, they said nothing, but then retreated. they did leave a nice brochure though. haven't seen any of them since then.

        1. Yugguy

          Re: Leftpondians have this:

          Actually the "arrested for being naked in your house" thing is a myth, even in this insane modern society of percieved offence.

          If you're walking around your house butt naked but without deliberately trying to offend your neighbours by for instance waving your cock out of the window at them, it's their problem if they get an eyeful.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well as a drone (I prefere the term quadcopter) owner and flyer, I am more worried about the dis-information peddled by TPTB & Mr Plod. Whilst a GoPro can take some awesome photo's, it ain't got a zoom so flown legally at a distance there sould be no privacy issues. Ironically flown at a legal distance it is all but silent and more likely to create a paranoid response when or if seen. As a model aircraft flyer of many years I realise how unreliable they can all be and realise that a motor failure or similar could bring the thing down at any instant so responsible flying is just common sense.

  20. fruitoftheloon
    Joke

    I have a solution

    Re what can they do if someone reports one flying around, pretend it is a clay bird, find a 12 gauge, use both barrels, that should be sufficient..

    J

  21. hapticz

    drone chasers

    soon, in a 'theatre' near you, the release of a newly purposed device to chase down, immobilize and destroy semi-autonomous vehicles that once offered freedom of choice for criminal ingenuity. the barons of tech in MI5/6 are already sweeping the internet for all useful methods being generously disseminated on uTube, 4chan and plenty of 'less than light sites', bringing together all the will of government and hidden government to bring peace (aka silence) to the land. stealthily flying at precisely 1000 feet above the deviant's device, tracking it with the precision of a laser guided hawk, the eventual return to the controller will be noticed, position marked and ground bobbies dispatched at breakneck speed.

  22. The Vociferous Time Waster
    Black Helicopters

    Easy

    if a 10mm ball from my slingshot doesn't do the job I suspect 28g of birdshot will make the props a lot less effective

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police chiefs criticise unmanned flying vehicles?

    Those drones can be extremely annoying at times. Mind you, the unmanned flying vehicles can be quite irritating as well.

  24. Dagg
    Black Helicopters

    What about the bloody Helicopters!

    Drones, I don't have a problem with they don't make much noise. Where I live we have bloody helicopters just hovering over the house 24 / 7 and when there is a major sport event you get several flying around.

    Drones may be cheaper but you can do all the same stuff with a helicopter! The icon says it all.

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