Do drones violate the Fourth Amendment?
As you know, the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees our privacy against government intrusion. Unless law enforcement has what’s called “probable cause” or a court warrant, your property and person are safe from unreasonable searches and seizures. Obviously, the facts of each case dictate just how this principle is enforced and interpreted.
A twenty-first century challenge to the 4th Amendment will be how drones fit into our lifestyles – what’s off-limits as opposed to what’s in the public domain? Drones are used by law enforcement, scientists, farmers and others for multiple purposes. You have probably noticed them on your TV screen during a football game, hovering over the field and following the action below.
Concerns include peeping-tom incidents by nosy neighbors or predators, safety to property and persons hit by stray or out-of-control drones, or interference with legitimate airlines flying overhead. These issues will continue to be debated and will undoubtedly end up in courts across the country. How the courts weigh in when the 4th Amendment is invoked remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
Photo by SparkFun Electronics