Jay Stanley of the ACLU has a thoughtful commentary on the code of conduct for drone use, recently promulgated by the association for police chiefs. You can read Jay’s analysis here. Like me, he was pleased to see some very strong privacy-protective recommendations, but a voluntary code of conduct does not have the force of law, and I agree with the ACLU that protections need to written into law.
In his analysis, Jay picks up on key concern. The code says,
If the UA will intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy, the agency will secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight.
And therein lies a large part of the problem. As Jay notes:
The Supreme Court has already been quite clear that searches cannot intrude upon “reasonable expectations of privacy” without a warrant. But, the whole contested question is where, exactly, people do have “reasonable expectations of privacy.”
It may also be useful to compare the code and Jay’s comments to a new bill proposed by Rep. Ed Markey. From my reading of it, Mr. Markey’s bill does not even address a number of the points raised in the code of conduct.
Given how difficult it is to pass any piece of legislation, I hope the congressman will incorporate some of these provisions in bill so that there is more privacy protection written into law.