The US state of California has passed a law banning the use of image-capturing drones, on privacy grounds.

Assemblyman Ed Chau, who wrote the privacy bill, said: ‘As technology continues to advance and new robotic-like devices become more affordable for the general public, the possibility of an individual’s privacy being invaded substantially increases.

‘This new law will update California privacy laws to better encompass future advances in technology by making it a constructive invasion of privacy to capture an image or sound recording in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, under circumstance [s] where the subject had a reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of any device.’

Though not explicitly aimed at the paparazzi, the law is expected to curb photographers’ use of drones for celebrity pictures.

Assembly Bill 2306 extends California’s existing privacy legislation – that limits use of a ‘visual or auditory enhancing device’ – to cover ‘any device’ – regardless of whether a physical trespass onto someone’s land has taken place.

The act, signed by California Governor Jerry Brown, amends Section 1708.8 of California’s Civil Code.

Text from the amended California Assembly Bill 2306:
‘A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the defendant attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the device was used.’


  • entoman

    No I’m not kidding you, and as it happens I’m probably a great deal less “sheltered” than most people.

    BUT I do find e.g. flying model aircraft and drones an intrusion especially when they are flown in nature reserves and wild countryside where as little noise and disturbance as possible is needed for the protection of the wildlife and for the preservation of tranquility.

    The larger drones will be noisy and intrusive, while the smaller cheaper ones will soon become so pervasive that they litter the countryside, crash into cars and become a huge nuisance to the general public.

    If I find a drone flying or landed near me, I reserve the right to disable it and hand it over to the police. This is not paranoia, it is protection of privacy, and protection of the countryside.

    People who fly drones may consider that they are just having a bit of harmless fun, but in reality they are being inconsiderate to others, and are a damned nuisance.

    Phones are an entirely different subject. I have no objection to police or governments having knowledge of my whereabouts because I’m not a criminal.

  • nerys

    except they are not banned at all or from public places. this law does not ban me from flying my tiny almost silent almost invisible will never bother you photo drone and capture gorgeous video and pictures.

    IT WILL however make it illegal for me to fly it into your back yard to get a shot through your window.

  • Brianjk135

    Are you kidding me? Are you that sheltered of a person? If you find it offensive for someone to fly over you and take a picture “Not of you” but of the surrounding area, then cameras should be removed from cell phones, ATMs, traffic lights, buildings and so on. You do realize at least one of the games in your phone traces your voice through your phone, monitors images from your camera, and can tell someone where you are at any given point in time. Stopping those that have no ill reasoning behind them from enjoying a hobby or demonstrating their artistic abilities is ludicrous.

  • entoman

    It’s a questions of what is reasonable and acceptable.

    There can be rare occasions when telephotos, telescopes or binoculars become an intrusion, but most of us find them acceptable, provided they are not thrust in our faces, or used to take “invasive” photos.

    However, drones buzzing overhead, in common with model aircraft, are to most people a more unacceptable type of intrusion, and their usage should be heavily restricted.

  • Steve Westbury

    They better ban all cameras with telephoto lenses as well hadn’t they because they are far more intrusive and far more prevalent

  • entoman

    Thank you California! We can only hope that the British government has the sense to follow suit and ban these devices from public open places. While they are acceptable at sports events in stadiums and arenas, elsewhere they are an irritating intrusion and an invasion of privacy, and will become increasingly so, so must be curbed.