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First 'incident' with privacy concerns

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rush, May 23, 2016.

  1. Rush

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    Just had my first 'incident' with someone expressing their concern about privacy. I live on a corner with only one joining neighbor but 4 others on my side of the street, and behind us is a solid 40 acres of pasture with some cattle on it. Not mine, but we do regularly interact with them; feeding and petting.

    I launch from my backyard to about 5-6m, then travel out to the pasture before gaining any further elevation or doing any other flying. I'm basically practicing at this point with about 5 hours of flight time. Decided to go photograph the cows to work with photos as I've only done some photos of our house and one neighbor (after discussing with him).

    My drone is registered and tagged, and I do my best to consider privacy and rules.

    I was standing on one of our benches watching my drone as I was photographing the cows (actually, by this time I was about 50-60m up over the far tree line) when a car stopped on the street and the driver asked me if "that was my drone that was flying in her backyard". I said that "If you mean the drone in the back pasture, then yes, that is mine". She asked if it had a camera to which I replied "yes, it does". All reasonably cordial at this point, though I could tell she was headed somewhere with her conversation and it was unlikely to be pleasant. She then said that it made her very uncomfortable that I was photographing her backyard. I said that I had no interest in her backyard and was only taking pictures of the cows. I was probably only 8-10 feet high when doing that. She said that she saw the camera pointed at her backyard (which is only enclosed by a wrought iron fence) and it made her very uncomfortable. I said that I respected her concerns and would avoid that area in the future, but also reiterated that in no way was I photographing or filming her space. She continued to insist that she had seen the camera pointed at the back yard and how uncomfortable it made her. I again assured her that even though the drone may have been facing her, the camera was focused on the cattle. I also repeated that I would respect her concerns. This conversation may have gone back and forth once or twice more, I don't truly recall. Her tone changed during the conversation to the point where it was no longer cordial. Not specifically rude, but clearly not wanting to hear my side of the conversation.

    Clearly, she was upset by the fact that a drone was in the space 'near' her back yard. I reviewed the logs and don't think I was ever within 50 feet of their fence. Most of my photos are 180 degrees from their yard. One was parallel.

    During the whole conversation, the drone was essentially parked at about 50m height over the far tree line with me checking on it about every 5-10 seconds (which is not the best practice). After the conversation I brought the drone down and landed it to sit and think for a bit. I actually feel really bad that I upset someone, but at the same time wasn't going to be pushed around and have someone persist in their accusation of me photographing their space.

    The whole event has sort of soured me on the hobby a little. Worse so that it's one of our neighbors. We don't know them well, but the very few interactions to date have been pleasant. If I have to load up the car and travel every time I want to fly, that changes the whole dynamic of my not insignificant investment. I guess in the back of my mind, I had the thought that this might happen at some point. Just didn't realize it would be with a neighbor over me photographing cows. If my humor were in place, I'd say this is just 'bullshi_' :)

    Anyway, thoughts and comments from anyone on how to a) deal with these situations any differently than I did, b) how to get past feeling bad (if I should), and c) did I do anything wrong?

    Technically, I probably should have asked for permission to fly the pasture. It's a very nice little piece of land with a homing pond that ducks, geese, herons, and any number of other fowl use. Hawks and other predators patrol it from the tree line of about another 20 acres. There are no dwellings or structures other than what is probably an old pump shed back in the trees. The house was bulldozed about 2 years ago.

    FWIW, Country of record is the US.
     
  2. RaptorMan

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    Many of us have to travel a good 20 miles to be outside of the many overlapping no fly zones that exist around us. Many of these no fly zones are helipads and many of them appear to be non-existent and that leads me to believe they're there solely for the purpose of denying airspace to drone operators.

    So, I feel for your situation and the general nature of the conversation is very typical of folks that watch TV news and swallow everything they say about drones. It tends to be mostly women but there are men that react this way as well. I guy on a photography board I frequent could have replaced your neighbor and the conversation would have proceeded with much the same dialog. Sucks!


    Brian
     
  3. andrew259

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    In the UK you wouldn't be able to make that flight as you would be within 50m of a building not in your control. (That's for under 7kg UAVs).
    I thought similar rules (even for hobbyists) were in place in USA? But I am keen to know.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  4. seanmclean

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    Is the pasture hers? You probably should have asked first. Traversing someone's property at altitude is one thing, being 8-10 feet over her property, and photographing her animals, is another.
     
    davidbarwin likes this.
  5. Rush

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    SeanMcLean,

    I suppose my posting wasn't clear. I was never within 50ft of her property. The pasture in question is owned by a different individual that leases the property for grazing rights to yet another individual. Her connection to the pasture is simply that it is a common border to both of our properties. I never traversed her property at all, nor did I photograph or film any of it.

    Her concern was that my camera was 'pointed' at her property. I disagreed with her assessment, though acknowledge that 50ft could be considered 'near' her property. Her original accusation of me flying in her backyard and photographing was completely off the mark.

    Such is life I suppose. Now I really need to consider a landing mode case. Flying out of my backyard is easy as I can setup and check values and everything in a very controlled environment.
     
  6. CaptainBadge

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    The few times we have run into this issue (generally on a real estate shoot) we allow the person to review the clip once we land, hand over a business card, and do our best to educate them. Only once did the person not leave the situation comfotable that we are protecting their privacy concerns. The one time the person (belligerantly intoxicated) had an issue, he threatened to 'blow that thing out of the sky'. After a quick landing and a brief explenation about 49 U.S.C. ยง 46504 (Penalties for assaulting pilots/crewmwmbers) and 18 U.S.C 32 (Willfull destruction of aircraft) he lost interest pretty quick. The neat thing about the FAA requiring 333 holders to be pilots and submit to their authority is that as such we are entitled to the same protections as any other aircraft/pilot. The first case to put this theory to the test is going to end badly for the person willing to put someone behind bars for 20 years for shooting a commercial drone.

    9 out of 10 times though, letting them see what you are filming, explaining the nature of what you are doing and being as polite as practiable solves the problem in my experience.
     
    lake_flyer likes this.
  7. Rush

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    CB,

    Sounds reasonable, though I'm not afforded the comfort and protection of 333 exemption as I'm simply a hobbyist enjoying some high tech.
     
  8. andrew259

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    Hi
    as I said I n the uk it's 50 METERS boundary - not feet.
    Anything within that (150 ft) needs permission here.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. Rush

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    You UK guys have it tough. There's very little 'public' space left here in the US, though we do have a fair amount of small city parks scattered around. The problem is DNF zones proliferate. I'm about 8 miles from a major airport, and 12-20 miles from about another 1/2 dozen that show up on one of my apps.

    I actually use Google maps to fly around looking for space to fly in. We used Google Earth when looking for land to purchase and build on. Maybe I should just use Google Earth as a surrogate for my drone fun :) I wonder if anyone has an app with sticks and fpv goggles that interfaces with Google Earth.

    Complicating things further is 333 exemption vs. hobbyist activities. Hobbyists actually have more leeway than professional pilots. Others may chime in and correct me, but I believe currently the FAA defers regulating outside of controlled space to 'national organizations with defined safety programs, etc.'... or something to that language. They do keep the 400ft argument though. The AMA is often cited, and their limitations defer to commenting on over flight other than limiting to not within 25ft of individuals. They do specifically mention privacy rights, which does tend to cause a row when the topic comes up. Proponents stating that it's common courtesy and rules of conduct. Opponents stating that it has nothing to do with safety and is a topic well covered by other overlapping jurisdictions already. I have no interest in surveillance or other nefarious activities, but do tend to believe that an organization should stick to it's core charter and refrain from including well intentioned content that is outside the appropriate scope.

    Crossing jurisdictions are definitely a pain.
     
  10. Phatzo

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    i'd show her the recording i made on the spot and tell her to see that what she thinks was going on is totally off the spot and to go home and suck her thumb (meaning to leave you alone and to try and verify that of what she accuses you is true or false. she could have asked politly to see what you have recorded trying to clarify...) also mentioning that i will not go near her property again trying to avoid that part.
    cheers



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  11. Pescatoral Pursuit

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    You could have shared the pictures you took with her, and/or asked her what a comfortable distance would be for her from her property, reassuring her your camera does not have a zoom lens.

    Beyond that some people just want to live in a world of offense.
     
  12. Gregg G

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    Looks like you are going to have to relocate your flights anyway with this drone hating neighbor. I usually ask permission of the property owner if I can fly and when I shoot properties We go the the surrounding houses and tell them what we are doing. Most the time they come out and watch us fly. The whole drone thing is a sticky wicket these days and we have to be real careful how we handle situations. It isn't right I know, but some people are just drone haters.
     
  13. Reddy Kilowatt

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    In the original description of this incident you stated she said. " she asked if it had a camera to which I replied "yes, " If she didn't know if you had a camera or not then how did she know it was pointing at her property?
     
  14. Rush

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    Reddy, that turn of conversation has certainly occurred to me, and very quickly to my wife as well when we discussed. In the end, I suppose it's a learning opportunity for me. Trying to think of her potential responses to that very question, she could say that it had what looked like a camera, and after I confirmed that indeed it was a camera, then 'it was pointed at my backyard'. I've moved on.... mostly. Haven't flown since then, but that's mostly a function of schedule. So, two near misses so far; one with a tree and one with a privacy concern. Those are the best learning opportunities..... where something ALMOST went really bad.