• Supreme Court Cases:
• California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207 (1986) (warrantless aerial observation of fenced-in
backyard from an aircraft flying at 1000 feet not unreasonable under the Fourth
• Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989) (warrantless aerial observation of the interior of
a partially covered greenhouse in a residential backyard from a helicopter flying at
400 feet not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment)
• Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001) (use sense enhancing technology (thermal
imaging) to gather information regarding the interior of home that could not otherwise
have been obtained without physical intrusion into a constitutionally protected area
constitutes a search requiring a warrant)
• Unites States v. Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012) (attachment of a GPS tracking device to
a vehicle and use of that device to monitor vehicle’s movement on public streets is a
trespass and therefore a search under the Fourth Amendment)
PRIVACY – 4th Amendment
• Radio Lab http://www.radiolab.org/story/update-eye-sky/
• Flies at 8,000-10,000 feet.
• Camera array takes a picture every second.
• Can use a drone but typically manned aircraft.
• Demonstrates the significant advancement in non-military
• July 2015 William Merideth shoots down a drone that he claims was
“hovering” over his property.
• He was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief.
• Drone operator, John Boggs claims the drone was at 200 feet and not hovering.
• In October 2015 Bullitt County Judge dismissed case on the grounds that it was an
invasion of privacy and that Mr. Merideth had a right to shoot it down.
• January 2016 drone operator John Boggs filed lawsuit in Federal Court
seeking a declaratory judgement:
• That the drone was an aircraft, which was regulated by the FFA and that it was flying
in Class G airspace where it was allowed.
• That shooting down the drone was a trespass to chattels entitling Boggs to $1,500 in
• March of 2017, Federal Judge dismisses case saying there is no federal jurisdiction.
• 18 U.S. Code § 32 - Destruction of aircraft or
• According to the FAA a drone is an aircraft; hence the entire fabric of
regulations regarding aircraft applies to drones.
• It is a federal crime to destroy (including shooting at) aircraft and if convicted
the offender is subject to a fine and/or up to 20 years in prison.
• FAA FACT SHEET December 17, 2015
• Examples of Regulation Within Local Power:
• Requirement for police to obtain a warrant prior to using a UAS for
• Specifying that UAS may not be used for voyeurism.
• Prohibitions on using UAS for hunting or fishing, or to interfere with or
harass an individual who is hunting or fishing.
• Prohibitions on attaching firearms or similar weapons to UAS.
Local Power Per the FAA
US Senate Bill 631 “Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2017”
• The Secretary of Transportation will ensure that “integration of unmanned aircraft
systems into the national airspace system is done in compliance with privacy principles.”
• The proposed legislation is lengthy and deals specifically with data collection and data
collection minimization standards.
• One subpart reads as follows:
• (d) Prohibition on use as evidence.—If information has been collected by means of
use of an unmanned aircraft system, no part of the contents of that information and
no evidence derived from that information may be received in evidence in any trial,
hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, officer,
agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the United
States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof unless that information is
collected in accordance with this section.