Now You Can Sign Up To Keep Drones Away From Your Property : All Tech Considered Most Americans worry that drones will invade their privacy, polls show. Thousands of people have signed up with NoFlyZone.org — the equivalent of a "get-off-of-my-lawn" warning to drone operators.
NPR logo

Now You Can Sign Up To Keep Drones Away From Your Property

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/388503640/388520647" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Now You Can Sign Up To Keep Drones Away From Your Property

Now You Can Sign Up To Keep Drones Away From Your Property

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/388503640/388520647" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And now to All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MCEVERS: And today we're going to hear about attempts to place limits on how invasive new technologies are. We'll start with drones. The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing rules for the drone industry, but they won't prohibit drones from flying over your house. NPR's Laura Sydell says if this is disturbing to you, there's a website for that. It's kind of a no-call list for telemarketers. This site sets up no-fly zones.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Robert L. Smith likes his privacy so much he moved out of the tiny town of Boonville, Ind., population around 6,000. He built a house on five acres 600 feet back from a country road.

ROBERT L. SMITH: It seems like in every aspect of our life now, somebody's watching us. I mean, you can't go to town and come back without being on a bunch of closed-circuit TVs.

SYDELL: Now that Smith lives out in the country, he's worried about drones.

SMITH: I just want privacy. I'm retired, my wife is disabled and I don't want no drone flying over my property.

SYDELL: So when he heard about a company called NoFlyZone.org he signed up. Its website keeps a list of people like Smith who don't want drones flying over their property. This list is given to the makers and users of drones. Ben Marcus, the CEO of NoFlyZone, says manufacturers can program drone software with physical addresses.

BEN MARCUS: If you have a quadcopter, for example, like a helicopter drone that approaches the airspace, it will come to a hover rather than continuing into the airspace. If you were to try to take off from inside the airspace it wouldn't even start.

SYDELL: Complying with the wishes of people on the list is totally voluntary, but the industry might be wise to pay close attention to it. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 71 percent of Americans don't think that drones should be able to operate over someone else's property.

MARCUS: This is a new industry. It's really at its inception, and this is an opportunity for the industry to take a leadership position on these privacy issues. And I think that they will.

SYDELL: The FAA proposed regulations for the industry last week. The agency acted after a drone landed right on the front lawn of the White House. The regulations would prevent drones from flying over people but not your property. Since NoFlyZone.org opened up a couple of weeks ago, over 20,000 people have signed up and seven drone makers are already using the list. Andrew Amato, editor-in-chief of the website DroneLife.com, thinks most drone users will be happy to comply.

ANDREW AMATO: Drone enthusiasts are generally pretty agreeable people, so the more popular this registry gets the more the average drone flyer will check before he takes off.

SYDELL: But Bill Luebkemann, who lives in a suburb outside Philadelphia, doesn't believe everyone will respect his right to privacy. For him, signing up is a way of registering his protest over increasing corporate and government invasions of our privacy.

BILL LUEBKEMANN: You're reading our emails and probably listening to this phone call and I hope they find it interesting. You have all kinds of government agencies eavesdropping on everybody. You wonder why not do whatever you can do to protect your privacy just a little bit more.

SYDELL: Luebkemann does think drones are here to stay. And he thinks they can be really useful for fighting fires or in agriculture. But like a lot of Americans, he really wants the good stuff about the latest technology without giving up what he feels is his right to be left alone. Laura Sydell, NPR News.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.