I was picking green beans in our garden recently, carefully trying to avoid spiders and other insects hiding amongst the leaves. Suddenly, I heard a buzzing noise. It grew louder. I jumped back from the bean trellis, wondering whether there was a yellow jacket nest hidden there. After a few seconds, I realized that the noise came from a drone, not from insects. I felt relieved that I was not about to be attacked by stinging insects, but annoyed that my neighbor chose to fly his drone over my property. I don’t like my neighbor flying his drone over my property, but what are my rights to tell him to stop it?
The right to control airspace is one issue. Another issue is the spying issue. Most drones have cameras, allowing the operator to view what’s happening on the ground below. The spying issue involves my neighbor’s ability to observe me and my property and gather from air information about me, and my other neighbors, that is otherwise unavailable to him. My drone flying neighbor and I can’t see each other’s homes from the ground. I’m more concerned about the spying issue than I am the air space issue. Regardless of the right to control airspace, individuals still have privacy rights that must be protected.