Regardless of current limitations, drones great and small still give law enforcement more reach than it had before. Yet while new legislation will surely be required, existing law may address some concerns.
“I believe that existing frameworks will provide more protection than is generally appreciated,” John Villasenor a policy expert with UCLA and the Brookings Institution, told NBC News via email. By that he means that, when drones start snooping, courts will uphold certain privacies thanks to the Fourth Amendment.
Others say that current laws may be insufficient, but targeting drones misses the point.
“Whether data’s being collected by Google or from cellphones or bank cameras or traffic cameras, I don’t think the medium is the essence,” Michael Toscano, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which represents drone manufacturers, told NBC News. “The question is what’s being done with it, who’s using it, who’s collecting it, where’s it being stored, where is it being deleted.”