NEWS10 Special Report: Game of Drones - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

NEWS10 Special Report: Game of Drones


ALBANY, N.Y. – It’s a world where the sky isn’t the limit, and the affordable technology has law enforcement and state lawmakers buzzing.

Drones are unmanned aircraft with no roads and almost no rules.

“You can do what you want,” Troy Police Captain John Cooney said. “There’s absolutely no restrictions.”

But these drones are not flown by the government. They’re flown by amateurs, like Slingerlands resident Dylan Longton, who for a few hundred dollars can get a bird’s eye view of whatever they want.

“I’ve talked to a few buddies who are state troopers and sheriffs, and they said keep it away from airports and everything else is fair game right now,” Longton said.

The Federal Aviation Administration sets the rules for civilian drone use. The rules state drones must stay below 400 feet, be at least five miles away from the airport, must be flown during daylight and must stay within sight.

The lack of rules worries law enforcement.

“When you think of the hobbyist or the private citizen – the access they’ll have now to secluded areas that the Average Joe thinks an eight foot fence will keep the rest of the world from looking into, and potentially that’s not going to be the case anymore,” Cooney said.

New York State Senator Charles Schumer said enough is enough.

“We need privacy,” he said. “We don’t want a drone to drop down in your backyard, look in your kitchen window and see what you’re doing.”

Congress considered a dozen bills that would have put tougher rules in place, but they never got off the ground. While the federal government has not come up with a solution to regulate drones, 43 states took up drone legislation in the last year. Nine have become law.

Nicholas Rostow is a drone expert and the Senior Director for the Center of Strategic Research at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He said that while Americans worry about what military drones are doing overseas, they should pay closer attention to what their neighbors may be doing as well.

“How they’re used raises legal issues, moral issues, privacy issues,” he said.

But these are issues the FAA won’t address until 2015.

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