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Drones Set Sights On U.S. Skies

Publication Date: 
February 17, 2012
The New York Times
Nick Wingfield and Somini Sengupta

Director of Privacy and Robotics at the Center for Internet and Society M. Ryan Calo spoke with Nick Wingfield and Somini Sengupta of the New York Times about the controversy surrounding the use of drones for commercial purposes.

Daniel Gárate’s career came crashing to earth a few weeks ago. That’s when the Los Angeles Police Department warned local real estate agents not to hire photographers like Mr. Gárate, who was helping sell luxury property by using a drone to shoot sumptuous aerial movies. Flying drones for commercial purposes, the police said, violated federal aviation rules.

“I was paying the bills with this,” said Mr. Gárate, who recently gave an unpaid demonstration of his drone in this Southern California suburb.


"As privacy law stands today, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in public, nor almost anywhere visible from a public vantage," said Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University. "I don’t think this doctrine makes sense, and I think the widespread availability of drones will drive home why to lawmakers, courts and the public."