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Why new privacy legislation approved by state lawmakers doesn't include drones

Posted at 5:35 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-15 17:42:10-04

Alex Miller has the best views of Buffalo available at his fingertips thanks to his drone. “I'm what you call a hobbyist. I bought it from Best Buy online. I got it. I tried it out in the back yard and I just took it up. There was no check sheet or any kind of read this or you must apply here.”

His business partner, Mark Brice does have a drone license and needs one since he uses the device to make money. Licensed or not, both said they're mindful not to record you without your knowledge. “For example if I'm doing a house for a realtor, I’ll always knock on the neighbors door and let them know give them a heads up,” Brice said.

While users like Brice and Miller are careful and cautious of who they record, there's nothing that says they have to be. So, anyone can appear in their video without their permission.

Senator Cathy Young recently sponsored legislation that allows you to sue your neighbor if they record you on surveillance video without your permission. It stems from a complaint she received from a family in northern Chautauqua County after a registered sex offender moved in next door and began recording their young children without their permission. “I believe very strongly that this will be a deterrent against the behavior that happened in my district,” Young explained. 

It's now awaiting the Governor's signature. However, her legislation doesn't include drones. “Drones are federally regulated. So, they're not included in the legislation for that reason,” said Young.

Still, owners like Alex Miller said stricter policies are needed. “No one knows where these drones are coming from, who is flying them the reasons they're being flown.” And he has high hopes that the government will soon crack down on drone usage.