What will surveillance drones in US skies mean for naturists?
An article in the International Herald Tribune today says that a law signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday will compel the FAA "to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, to surveying damage from hurricanes, even to shooting Hollywood films. The police and emergency services will be freer to send up their own drones." IHT quotes Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University, worrying that ‘‘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. I don’t think this doctrine makes sense...’’ The article asks: " Can a drone flying over a house pick up heat from a lamp used to grow marijuana inside, for instance, or take pictures from outside someone’s third floor fire escape? Can images taken from a drone be sold to a third party, and how long can they be kept?" The specific rules evidently haven't been figured out yet. Randy Mcdaniel, chief of the sheriff’s department in Conroe, Texas, near Houston, whose agency purchased a drone to use for law-enforcement operations, is quoted as saying that concerns about privacy are overblown, "everyone, everywhere can be photographed with cellphone cameras anyway." Yes, but there are sometimes fences or other stuff in the way for us non-drone cellphone photographers...
Personally, I don't mind being photographed nude in my backyard by a drone. Well, as long as it's not used to enforce some "public" indecency law. Maybe AANR/TNS/NAC should make a few phone calls to make sure that friendly naturists are protected. More optimistically, maybe the advent of domestic drones will make being photographed nude so common that sheriffs won't bother following up and legislators consequently will have to decide more clearly what "public" actually means and what, photographed or otherwise, specifically constitutes doing something "indecent."
At least, thanks to the real estate drones, new neighbours will know in advance that there are naturists living next door. On the other hand, why am I more comfortable with the thought of overhead Obama Drones than overhead Santorum Drones?