Privacy experts have deep concerns over rise of drones as civilians take advantage of lower prices

Privacy concerns not grounding drones in Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - They go from the ground to the air in no time.

Propelled by propeller blades, drones can fly above a West Palm Beach street, and get a view of someone's home, with HD cameras.

"I didn't hear it, didn't see it," said Bob Slaski. "My dog is sitting out there, he started barking, so I came out to see what's going on."

A hobbyist - who wanted to remain anonymous - showed us what his remote-controlled homemade drone could do.

And what it could see.

"I don't want the big brother in my house," said Slaski.

Drones can be fitted with GPS, night vision cameras and even infrared-see-through scopes and piloted from miles away with an iPad. RC Revolution on Okeechobee Boulevard sells four drones a week at $250 and up.

"There are no stipulations, there's no one regulating who is buying this stuff," said store owner Jason Rose.

That worries them.

"You could have something like this, or smaller, just hovering outside of somebody's window, or business, or in their backyard, and they'd never know it was there," said Rose.

The US Senate held a hearing on drone privacy last week.

In Florida, there are plans to ban police from using them without warrants.

The FAA regulates commercial and government use.

But the former head of the state American Civil Liberties Union, James Green, says there's virtually nothing on state or federal books to protect you from a 'Peeping Tom' behind a 'Peeping Drone.'
 
"Unfortunately, privacy laws, rarely, if ever, keep up with the technology," said Green, now a West Palm Beach attorney.

But the technology is taking flight.

Slaski wonders whether the law can win the race for privacy before he winds up on a video that isn't destined for a TV newsroom.

"They need to do something. It is an invasion of privacy, the way I look at it," said Slaski.
 

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