Ohio town passes legislation against drone-based invasions of privacy

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In response to complaints from a resident, the city of Hamilton, Ohio has passed a proposal to outlaw drone-based invasions of privacy. The legislation, approved last week, makes it illegal to use drones “to invade the privacy of another’s home, office, enclosed space, or the private space of another.”

The Hamilton City Council approved the legislation unanimously, despite the concerns raised by the members of a drone industry trade association called Drone Service Providers Alliance.

Journal News reports, rather than waiting to evaluate the concerns expressed by professional and hobbyist drone pilots alike, council members decided they would amend the ordinance in the coming weeks, if required.

The drastic move comes in response to the complaints from a longtime city resident who told council members a local guy was using his drone to peer inside windows, fly over children playing in yards, and even chase a young woman down the street.

When the complainant went to the police, he was told that nothing could be done because “there were no laws on the books.” As such, the Hamilton City Council didn’t want to waste any time in making these invasions of privacy with a drone illegal.

Chad Hankins, of Tamarack Aerial Services, traveled to Hamilton from North Olmsted, Ohio, to request council members to reconsider the wording of the law. Hankins explained that many of the issues that the city was trying to address were already covered by federal laws, and that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could investigate inappropriate drone use.

In response, Mayor Pat Moeller told Hankins:

We had a situation where a drone operator was really terrorizing a neighborhood, and this is not a ban on drones. We’re just looking for the appropriate use of them. It’s not intended to affect those who use drones for legal commercial uses or legitimate hobbyists.

Council members were especially interested to know how quickly the FAA could respond to a complaint about this sort of misuse of a drone.

The legislation was approved unanimously in the end, with members assuring it could be improved “as soon as the next council meeting,” if warranted.

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