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Anti-peeping-tom drone law nixed in California

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Americans, what is the point of having elected assemblies and senates (state or country) when the gov'ner can just cancel a law because he doesn't like it? Answers delivered by a drone....

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The founders decided on "balance"...

The US Gov, has three branches that are supposed to balance each other. The President has veto power over Congress but they can over-ride his veto with enough votes. The States, for the most part, have adapted that structure. Note that the branches are supposed to ""balance each other" but lately, that's been a bit of fiction here in the States.

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What's the difference between this, and the president of the US vetoing a bill from Congress?

Or the House of Lords sending a bill back to the Commons?

Or the president of France "asking parliament to reconsider" a law?

Or... oh, you get the picture. Looks to me like standard practice, at least in most places that have pretensions to constitutionality.

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Our news media is heavily biased and one-sided. What you don't hear about is WHY the law was cancelled. There may have already been an existing law which covered this situation. Leaving out the WHY makes it appear that government will not do anything about the problem.

Liberals tend to introduce a new laws to give the impression that they are doing good. What they are really doing is making a tangled mess of the legal system which makes most things a crime and turns us all into criminals.

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"There may have already been an existing law which covered this situation"

Agreed, although I'm not sure of the specifics, I'm pretty sure a 'ceiling' for your property rights was worked out way back when passenger flight became a thing. Anyone flying over your property but under whatever height the ceiling is in your jurisdiction should be covered by trespass laws.

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Stop

Yet more laws

Nameless Faceless Computer User wrote:

Liberals tend to introduce a new laws to give the impression that they are doing good. What they are really doing is making a tangled mess of the legal system which makes most things a crime and turns us all into criminals.

Just as Labour did in the UK, between 1997 and 2010 they passed thousands of new laws, must of which duplicating existing ones. Knife crime was already illegal, but they made it doubly illegal and then triply illegal, when any high profile case hit the media.

The collation which followed tried to repeal a good number of these useless laws, but it would have taken an entire parliamentary session just to undo the past 13 years.

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Or the House of Lords sending a bill back to the Commons?

Its a bit more like the Queen refusing to sign a bill into law. Of course there are many years of constitutional precedent and practice in the UK that make this very unlikely. The Queen’s position in the government of the UK is also very different to that of a US State Governor.

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Anonymous Coward

"Our news media is heavily biased and one-sided"

Yes. Faux News is a bad joke. At least you have CNN and BBC World which is somewhat closer to neutral, even if they still tend to play down lots of unsavoury things about terrorist states like Israel that the US still props up.

"Liberals tend to introduce a new laws to give the impression that they are doing good."

That would probably be because Liberals generally do support good things. Those from the colonies often don't seem to understand what the word actually means:

Liberal: "advocates civil liberties and political freedom with representative democracy under the rule of law and emphasizes economic freedom"

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alternative protection

Does the state have any laws relating to privacy (or nuisance) that also cover this situation?

Also I assume they'd worked out that at 350 ft, you can't see much on an average drone camera. But given press 'Persistence' wouldn't they just use bigger drone with bigger lens.

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That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

...was every GangBanger in greater Los Angeles opening fire on any/every "drone" they see.

I don't blame that dad for shooting down the drone he feared was peeping on his daughters, and something tells me a lot more armed parents are going to start doing likewise. "You fly a drone over my property & I'll consider it Tresspassing. Don't want me shooting your ass down? Don't fly over my home."

And whom can blame the shooter? If you caught a Peeping Tom looking in your daughter's 2nd story window at 3AM, your first thought is to yell for someone else to call the cops while YOU grab the bastard & beat the shit out of the pervert. Since you can't reach the drone by hand, blowing it away is a perfectly reasonable reaction instead. As is shooting the Criminal Tresspasser on your property.

I realize most Europeans don't own a gun & will disagree with this, that's fine & I welcome the discussion, but if you catch someone violating your privacy in such a blatant & flagrant manner, do you not wish to inflict grievous bodily harm on the scum?

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Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

This 'European' doesn't own a gun but does agree with you.

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Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

I agree with your sentiments, but I have reservations about the method.

What goes up must come down, and that applies to bullets. As a teacher I taught a girl who at fourteen became paralyzed for life after being hit by a stray bullet fire from a rifle over a mile away. The shot had been in the air as the shooter was clearing his rifle 'safely'. (This was in the African bush.)

It you could take the drone down with something non-lethal then good on you. I just worry about stray bullets. On balance I think the legislation is a safer route to go down.

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Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

Last I checked, the guy used a shotgun loaded with birdshot which is meant to be shot up (as it's meant to hit birds on the wing). The shot comes down like sand or fine gravel, not really a threat to anyone.

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Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

This European owns a gun and does agree with you.

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Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

"I realize most Europeans don't own a gun"

More than you might think. I get the impression most Americans think the whole of Europe is a single state with consistent gun law. Far from it.

"& will disagree with this,"

Not necessarily, although I might disagree that a new law is required since it's likely that other laws are already being broken anyway, eg the example used is drone-based peeping toms and there are already laws against that. At the very least, flying a drone low over someone else's property is likely to be disturbing the peace too.

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Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

> Since you can't reach the drone by hand, blowing it away is a perfectly reasonable reaction instead.

Perfectly reasonable ... if you don't mind spending the next 20 years in prison. The FAA considers a drone to be a civil aircraft and - for some strange reason - it's a federal crime to shoot at an aircraft.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That "Thunderstorm" you just heard...

"Since you can't reach the drone by hand, blowing it away is a perfectly reasonable reaction instead. As is shooting the Criminal Tresspasser on your property."

"I realize most Europeans don't own a gun & will disagree with this"

Primarily because said gun is statistically many times more likely to be used on you by an intruder or used by a family member on another family member or a non criminal third party than it ever will to prevent crime on you or your family. Hence having the gun is a large part of the problem. You might want to read http://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Firearm-Ownership-and-Violent-Crime.pdf

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You don't own the air above your ground

OK, this law is stupid especially for small properties (anyone who ever tried to estimate by eye "where" a 350ft-high object really is relative to the ground will understand why.

OTOH I can totally believe that people would be afraid of peeping toms; they go to great lenght to hide from the neighbours, and now the pesky f*ckers come back from the sky. If that's not covered by some sort of privacy law, it's time to hop to it.

One complication is, in all the countries I've lived in you don't own the air above your ground, nor the underground for that matter. Not even the waterway going through it, actually. If the river crossing your land is classified as a waterway (terminology may vary) you have no business preventing pesky canoers going to and fro. In some places you're even required by law to keep a clear band of land along the river on which people are allowed.

Similarly, if you find something valuable deep under your property, it's not yours, it's the state's, all you get is a finder's fee.

And you cant prevent state-approved airborne vehicles from flying above your land.

All this for very good reasons. Perhaps "state-approved" needs to be redefined in that case (cue shouts of "police state!" and "dictature!" from people who prefer to inflict grievous bodily harm by themselves).

On the privacy issue, if I'm correct you still can't prevent the neighbours from staring at your daughter's window using their telescope. Nobody would care if you slapped them across the face (even though that's still technically assault) but grievous bodily harm would be frowned upon. Not as much as, say, torrenting the latest Disney hit (that's SERIOUS crime), but still.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"One complication is, in all the countries I've lived in you don't own the air above your ground, nor the underground for that matter. Not even the waterway going through it, actually. If the river crossing your land is classified as a waterway (terminology may vary) you have no business preventing pesky canoers going to and fro. In some places you're even required by law to keep a clear band of land along the river on which people are allowed."

In the United States, under federal aviation acts, property owners DO own airspace rights up to 500 feet above their land (above that is owned by the US and regulated by the Dept. of Transportation, via the FAA), and these rights CAN be sold, leased, or eased if the owner wishes (this was how the Virginia Beach Oceana dispute was settled: the homeowners sold easements to the Oceana jet base). They also own land rights to the ground underneath them which is why miners have to buy or lease mineral rights from the land owners (just ask them).

Now, on the flip side of the coin, the FAA does exert federal law over any aircraft, manned or unmanned, larger than, say, a model plane. And this authority is attached to the aircraft itself, meaning it applies regardless of its location. Plus, most drones are more like helicopters than fixed-wing craft, and there are more allowances for rotor craft (which is why things like news copters can operate at lower altitudes).

Technically, shooting down a drone is shooting down an aircraft: a felony. However, the expectation of privacy is also federally-protected and based INM on a couple of the Amendments. Damaging other people's property, even if it's on YOUR property, is a criminal offense (a counterexample often cited is the car that drives onto your lawn), but given the potential designs, any airborne object in one's domain could also be seen as a threat, allowing for self-defense to be invoked. So if the matter were to go to federal court, it could easily be turned into a law-versus-law argument, making the whole thing a gray area.

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Facepalm

Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"On the privacy issue..."

Yes, well, that fancy new privacy-protecting invention called CURTAINS is still mostly unknown leaving the general populace woefully defenceless in their own home against anyone with a pair of eyeballs...

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

that fancy new privacy-protecting invention called CURTAINS is still mostly unknown leaving the general populace woefully defenceless in their own home against anyone with a pair of eyeballs...

True, especially seeing as in some places you can find yourself on the nasty end of a lawsuit for doing -on your own land- things that are not deemed proper for public view., if it's visible from outside your property.

A few "incitation" lawsuits in Canada spring to mind (for smoking), as well as the ever-successful "indecency" thing across the Western world.

Try as you may, if whatever you're doing is deemed improper, you better do it out of the view of peeping neigbours. The solution may involve curtains. That's not always entirely fair. Or ever at all.

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"In the United States, under federal aviation acts, property owners DO own airspace rights up to 500 feet above their land "

Nope, it just says that navigable airspace starts at 500+ feet. There is no defined height of private ownership. The US court system's record for ownership is 83 feet above a property (United States vs Causby)

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

They also own land rights to the ground underneath them

I think not, but feel free to educate me.

which is why miners have to buy or lease mineral rights from the land owners

Now I could be very mistaken, but as I see it mining always involves significant ground-level activities (huge holes, trucks, specialized building most of the time); it totally makes sense that you'd have to pay the landlord for that.

You'll find that miners also have to get a (costly) permit from the State, often with very well-defined quotas (just ask them). Just as if the underground stuff belonged to the State, innit?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"Nope, it just says that navigable airspace starts at 500+ feet. There is no defined height of private ownership. The US court system's record for ownership is 83 feet above a property (United States vs Causby)"

Which means, per the Constitution, anything not claimed or forbidden by the Fed goes to either the States or the People. But since most States do not directly claim airspace, that means it defaults to the People.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"Now I could be very mistaken, but as I see it mining always involves significant ground-level activities (huge holes, trucks, specialized building most of the time); it totally makes sense that you'd have to pay the landlord for that.

You'll find that miners also have to get a (costly) permit from the State, often with very well-defined quotas (just ask them). Just as if the underground stuff belonged to the State, innit?"

Permit fees and quotas are for environmental reasons due to the pollution mining tends to produce (West Virginia and Italy are intimately familiar with tailings dam failures). But if you don't believe me about the leases, they did a brief television series about a coal mining company (called appropriately "Coal"), and one of the late dramas of the series was that their current lease was not much more usable (their claim ran into an old mine—one that was flooded), so the mining company had to renegotiate their lease with the landowner (and it was specifically a lease—five years) so as to change their claim and turn 90 degrees from their current position.

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

But if you don't believe me about the leases,

Oh, I do believe you about the lease, no need to throw in the "I've seen a dramatization of it on TV" argument. What I'm discussing is the ownership of the underground.

Permit fees and quotas are for environmental reasons

Mmmyes, the environment factor sometimes comes into play when calculating these, as do the "public interest" factor, the "how much did you say, again?" factor and the "we'd like to sit on these a little while longer just in case, thank you very much" factor. Usually environment comes last.

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

@ElReg!comments!Pierre

As far as actual ownership is concerned, if wikipedia and quora are to be believed then US landowners own rights to all minerals under their property barring an explicit notation in the deed. This apparently even includes the oil that flows into the rock under your property from under your neighbor's property due to the fact that you've just sucked your property dry. You are *not* allowed to dig down and then sideways under someone else's property without a lease, however.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_and_gas_law_in_the_United_States

This fits with what I've always heard as far as the US is concerned, in that US law on this differs greatly from European law.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"Coal" was a reality TV show made by Original Productions. You may have heard of its other works: Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Black Gold (aka Oil Riggers), and Ax Men, all recording real-life events as they occurred (IOW, practically all the drama you saw was real, not made up). The ownership rights I mentioned are in accordance with federal and state laws. Now, some mines are located on government land, meaning these belong to the State. Stakes can be claimed by such laws as the General Mining Act of 1872, but that's separate from claims staked on private land, These are covered under mineral rights (except for stuff like sand, limestone, and water, which belong to the surface), and under the law, belong to the surface landowner unless previously agreed to, which would then be noted in the property's deed. That's why easements and leases are allowed and are done through the landowner, not through the government. The government gets involves due to the environmental issues that are an unfortunate part of mining, and they were forced to step in (by enraged public) after such disasters as Buffalo Creek. Remember, mining states tend to be rural, and rural areas tend to be a more-independent sort and would prefer only a light touch by government...until stuff like that comes along.

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Devil

Re: You don't own the air above your ground

"This apparently even includes the oil that flows into the rock under your property from under your neighbor's property due to the fact that you've just sucked your property dry."

Or as Daniel Day Lewis said it, "I. Drink. Your. MILKSHAKE!"

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

They also own land rights to the ground underneath them which is why miners have to buy or lease mineral rights from the land owners (just ask them).

Maybe. Try buying real estate in New Mexico, for example - the deed specifically excludes rights to a range of minerals. And water ownership, both surface and subsurface, is very complicated.

It's certainly not anywhere near as simple as "In the United States, ... property owners ... own land rights to the ground underneath them".

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Re: You don't own the air above your ground

You just hit on one of my points. That means the mineral rights were previously sold. That isn't necessarily a government action but a transaction tendered in the past. This means the area has a history attached. When oil prospectors originally came, they negotiated mineral rights with the original landowners (or if the land was public, staked a claim with the government), which is why the conditions are noted in the deeds.

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332.5-420ft?

Upper ceiling (for RC) 400ft, lower 350ft that leaves a fairly narrow band, oh BTW is that barometric, referenced to what?, how often updated? or GPS? what tolerance? 5%? where land falls off is it average over 50ft or something?

No wonder someone spotted it would be hard to police.

That bloke from NZ talk some good points

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8tnUjP-sK4

As for the privacy thing that's harder, could the drone operator over a certain size be required to have a bluetooth locator (like StickNFind or Tile) on board when in an urban setting? That way peoples smartphones with the app could create a realtime ground radar for drones. If you're out of town, or don't intend to fly over buildings or people no requirement to fit but should your untagged vehicle end up in some town garden you will need to justify it.

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XKCD has the right answer ages ago..

XKCD solved that problem in a near perfect way IMHO.

Simple, elegant, low law enforcement overhead, no red tape. Perfect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: XKCD has the right answer ages ago..

Except that won't stop drone destruction, plus since the drones are so small, theft will be easy to conceal.

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Or

Chief Cans Californian Creep 'Copter Cancellation. Chicks conceal c-cups. Children Cower. Criminals carbines cocked.

Cheers.

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Sil

These are politicians laws. In the US, the FAA regulates flying, not the states.

States can only regulate on take off and landing. The FAA has sole authority over the American airspace.

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FAIL

Wot no Jello

Jerry Brown article and no reference to the Dead Kennedys. Shame on you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoA_zY6tqQw

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Joke

In other NEWS....

Politician drones on, and on, and on...

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Anonymous Coward

Send all the drones to Malta

Then the locals can shoot the hell out of them rather than migrating birds (feathered kind).

Be good practice for the pilots of the next gen fighters which apparently will be unmanned. If they can survive that barrage then they are good to go.

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Re: Send all the drones to Malta

No worries they have wind farms to take care of those pesky feathered creatures...

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Super Cali's Governor Brown something, something ... ah screw it

How about:

Super Cali's Governor Brown says he's not officious, to ban the drones hovering is something quite atrocious.

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Meh

Re: Super Cali's Governor Brown something, something ... ah screw it

Sub Ed's really not making the effort any more...

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Angel

Super Cali legalises perverts eye-in-sky buzz?

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Time to check for flying pigs...

when governor moonbeam actually makes sense for once. Also good to know Kalifornia is focusing on the important issues, no need to worry about some pesky drought now is there. Maybe you know finally getting around to building those reservoirs that their environuts prevented for decades thus precipitating the severity of the situation... nah someone flying a drone is where its at.

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Unhappy

Re: Time to check for flying pigs...

Personal views aside, it IS a very common exercise for politicians and media to focus the plebe's attention on trivial matters and away from serious problems in order to avoid civil unrest while doing nothing of importance.

Come election time you can pretend you did, err, "things", while the controversial issues are left for the next w*nkers to deal with if they feel like it. Sad, but sadly true in most places.

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Us vs the lawyers

You know, he's got a point. Isn't American society already litigious enough, without adding another law that people can get into petty arguments about? Imagine flying at 355 ft, and then getting dragged into court because it turned out your GPS had a 6 ft vertical margin of error (remember, vertical accuracy is significantly worse than horizontal). I know my little GPS logger was regularly off by ten meters, if not more.

Yes, we want to prevent intrusions on privacy, but I agree we should try to do it without creating a new avenue for lawyers to get rich.

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jwa

When someone shoots down a drone and it hits and kills someone, who is libel?

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Anyone who's accused in print of the crime, but didn't actually do it, may have been libeled. (If they're accused in speech, they'd be slandered.)

Oh, did you mean who is liable? That's probably a more interesting question. IANAL, but I'd think a creative prosecutor could go after both parties - the drone controller (for trespass and/or creating an attractive nuisance) and the shooter (for causing injury, destruction of private property, and possibly other things, such as illegal discharge of a firearm, depending on circumstances).

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That forest fire?

It's astounding that operations to extinguish a forest fire were cancelled because of drones if there was a way to shoot the drones down. If new legislation is needed to deal with situations like this, I'm amazed that it's taking any time to pass it. A fire is an emergency; it must be put out as soon as physically possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That forest fire?

They weren't cancelled, merely delayed, and firefighters IIRC DID physically down the drones as needed but still don't want to resort to it for fear of the drones aggravating the fire or injuring firefighters.

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