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Expert Witnesses on Drones and Privacy Issues

Drones usually defy privacy, as they are able to fly into the private and persona property of another individual. This means that if the drone is equipped with cameras or a recording device, the conversations of a person over the phone or with another and even groups may be intruded upon.

Anyone that has access to a drone and other surveillance technology may follow these actions that violate privacy laws when the person is at home or in another private setting where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This also means the individual at home or in another area of privacy is protected by the law.

The commercial use of drones has been freer since the Federal Aviation Administration altered regulations. This means that privacy issues have become more complicated, and any drones with surveillance equipment may impede on private citizens while they are having conversations with others. Companies must be aware of what is permitted and what is prohibited by law. This means that a professional is needed to explain these matters when research is not enough. If a case goes to court, an expert witness may be used to explain privacy issues and how the victim was within his or her rights of reasonable and expected privacy when a drone with a microphone or camera took surveillance footage. It is then up to the businesses to ensure these actions do not occur.

Privacy Rules

Several lawsuits have been filed against companies with drones that violate privacy laws due to various reasons, but agencies are failing at establishing rules for drones in keeping privacy in mind as required by the United States Congress. Before widespread drone deployment was implemented, greater than 100 businesses and experts in the filed have worked with the FAA in ensuring that privacy laws and protections are established for the public. Once the rules have been finalized, laws may be created to ensure privacy is kept even when drones are soaring about the skies. This will limit litigation due to businesses understanding what may be permitted with certain locations and citizens’ rights.

Both individual and class action litigation is filed each year since drones have become part of national society. There are many instances of persons challenging drones themselves and regulations covering privacy grounds with these devices. It is difficult to keep up with the advancements in technology and implementation for each state regarding these issues. Protecting privacy may mean restrictions are imposed by those that own these machines to include keeping microphones and video cameras off of them unless they are for government or company use that has been permitted by the state legislature. Many other areas of the law may be by the new use of drones such as real estate for surveys and artists for a sky view.

Litigation with Drones

Lawsuits and litigation complications are projected to increase exponentially in and after 2017 due to the increasing concern to keep privacy intact. This means that expert witnesses with a background in aviation, privacy and constitutional law will be needed to explain what has been violated, how it occurred and what type of remedy is necessary as a solution to the incident. Their expertise in these matters is important so that the judge or jury may understand what may be compromised by privacy being invaded. If the individual that is spied upon in this manner is discussing confidential matters of business or personal details, it could cause damages of an economic or financial matter. Additionally, these problems would cause emotional or psychological distress as reasonably expected private rooms, locations and areas are violated where they should remain secluded.

The Expert Witness with Drones and Privacy Issues

While many states have initiated processes to work with complications due to drones and privacy, the matter may go to court before it is resolved. With the assistance of a lawyer and an expert witness, the chances of some type of remedy may be a successful outcome to the claim. However, many of these situations need a professional that understands what a drone is, how it works, why surveillance equipment could jeopardize privacy and what that means to a private individual. The average person does not fully grasp how these electronics may violate the privacy of a person in his or her home or in private locations where isolation and seclusion is expected. The role of an expert witness is to assist with the resolution, explanation and give a detailed report on the incident with possible remedies to the problem.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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