While We’re Still Defining Our Drone Rights, Security Companies Are Defining Theirs As Well

by Bret HoyLeave a Comment

With all of our talk about gear technology and specifications, you might be led to believe that there’s basically no regulation on any of this stuff. And really, for most of what we talk about, things aren’t heavily regulated in ways that really affect the everyday shooter.

Broadcast standards are easy to export with because of Adobe Presets, and even without that, all of our questions can be easily answered with Google. There may be limits on record times– that is, DSLR's stop recording at twenty nine minutes, while Camcorders roll until they're out of card space or battery, but in general camera's aren't a heavily regulated section of technology.

Where regulations tend to really hit the modern shooter are when they’re shooting in places that require permits and most infamously, when you’re operating a drone.

The past few years are marked with amazing advances in drone technology and peppered with copious amounts of paranoia about regulation. Personally, I am for regulation because it keeps professionals safe. As much as it can be annoying, if it’s regulated, your drone rights are more legally defined. And that's almost always good for you.

But because we’re still in this sort of Wild West of drone rights, it's incredibly important to remember that it’s a two-way street. While you’re exercising your rights to fly the drone, security companies are exercising their rights to stop you from flying over designated zones.

Duncan Sinfield, a drone operator, has been documenting the construction of Apple’s new campus in Silicon Valley. Inexplicably, while filming, he lost control of the drone. It flew, seemingly guided by an unseen operator, directly into the bay near Redwood City and sank. This destroyed the drone.

Mercury News talked to Sinfield and other operators and drone experts in the industry about the burgeoning new drone security field. While most of us don’t feel the repercussions of Sinfield’s experience, as drones become more ubiquitous, expect drone security to follow suit.

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Amateur drone operators soon could face high-tech barriers

The Apple “spaceship” campus under construction; photographed at night by Duncan Sinfield using his drone, on July 22, 2016. Photo Credit: Duncan Sinfield | Source: The Meeting News

The Apple “spaceship” campus under construction; photographed at night by Duncan Sinfield using his drone, on July 22, 2016. Photo Credit: Duncan Sinfield | Source: The Meeting News

Via The Mercury News:

Something weird happened to Duncan Sinfield’s drone shortly after he was told by a security guard to stop flying over a tech company’s campus in the heart of Silicon Valley.

It flew off, defying attempts to control it, and headed for a watery demise.

“It mysteriously crashed into the bay near Redwood City and sank,” said Sinfield, a television news assignment editor who in the past few years has used his drone to chronicle the valley’s tech boom, posting his personal flyover videos on YouTube.

“I watched it go down at full speed, even as I was using my thumb to raise elevation. It was as if there were some invisible hand controlling it.”

Sinfield has no clue what happened, and neither does drone-maker DJI, which reviewed the craft’s flight data stored on the company’s servers.

But with amateur operators increasingly buzzing corporate headquarters, sports venues and the private homes of tech celebrities such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, emerging counter-drone technologies could soon spawn an intriguing cat-and-mouse game in our increasingly crowded skies.

“You can’t just put a fence around a property anymore,” said longtime industry analyst Patrick Egan, who teaches a course in drone video production at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “You have to wrap it up completely.”

Egan said many Bay Area tech companies go out of their way to protect their privacy, “so these flyovers are probably really getting their goat.”

And that’s where tools like “geofencing” come in. Using GPS or radio signals, the technology essentially creates a virtual barrier against intrusions. Software that prevents a drone from breaching a geofence can be embedded in the craft’s navigation system, which is what DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone manufacturer, does with its “geospatial environment online” feature.

DJI’s software constantly updates the places users are prohibited from flying over, and operators are warned when they approach no-fly zones, such as airports, military installations, active wildfires and even presidential motorcades. By default, a DJI drone will not fly into or take off in locations that raise safety or security concerns.

But experts say there are other ways to surround property with a geofence, and some drone enthusiasts believe Silicon Valley companies may be quietly working to install “hidden” barriers set up by third parties. Robi Sen, founder and chief technology officer of Maryland-based communications and security company Department 13, said that in addition to creating potential safety hazards, drones can be used to steal trade secrets — and his firm is helping companies thwart the crafts from hovering over their properties.

Read full article at The Mercury News “Amateur drone operators soon could face high-tech barriers”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from The Mercury News)

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy

Bret Hoy is a filmmaker, photographer and writer based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Mainly focused on documentary and experimental film, he has produced, directed, shot and edited many short films and a few long form works.

He shoots a lot and often.
Bret Hoy

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