CARMICHAEL (CBS13) — A Carmichael woman noticed a drone flying above her house. At first, she thought nothing of it. But as it lingered, she began to worry about her privacy.
“We looked at it and I waved and I said ‘Hi!’” Said Willie Wilson. “How ya doin’? What are you doin?”
Just 25 feet in the air was a drone hovering in her front yard.
“And it stayed there and I thought ‘This is kind of annoying!’” she said.
Suddenly, it disappeared but moments later it came back. Three days later, it came back again. This time Wilson’s husband Scott spotted it in the back yard.
“I came outside and went and looked up and it was just hovering up above the redwood tree,” said Scott Wilson. “It felt like it was spying on the neighbors.”
Both Scott and Willie say it felt like an invasion of their privacy.
“Your mind starts to go,” Wilson said. “They could be scoping out what’s in your garage, what’s in your yard, what can we steal, who are you, what are you wearing?”
She wanted to know if it’s legal for any drone user to record what’s on the ground below? Attorney Steve Miller says no.
“You can be liable for invasion of privacy if you use a drone to capture images or sound recordings of someone on their property,” Miller said.
In California, recording someone with a drone is not a criminal violation, but a civil one. Miller says prosecution starts by identifying the drone and the person being the remote. But are you protected if the drone isn’t recording?
“We are still in the Wild West of drone law,” Miller said. “Now it’s really difficult to say exactly what if any laws are being implicated by that.”
Right now, drone law in California is vague. There’s only one law on the books that regulates drone use and that was signed into law by Gov. brown last October (Assembly Bill 856). But there are several bills pending to regulate things like flying drones over schools and prisons.
Willie’s neighbors say she should shoot it down but she has her own plan the next time it comes around the neighborhood.
“If I were to capture it and their film was rolling, I would look the camera in the eye and say ‘well you know where you are so come and get it and let’s have a conversation,’” she said.