Use of Drones – Privacy Interests

A drone often refers to a small unmanned aerial device which is flown by remote control.  Drones are becoming very popular among the general public as they have become smaller and very affordable.  Drones started out as highly technical devices which just a few years ago could cost thousands of dollars. Nowadays, you can purchase a drone at your local toy store for less than $100.  These drones are often capable to taking very high quality photographs and even high definition videos.  But be careful.  In Wisconsin it is against the law to use a drone with the intent to photograph, record or otherwise observe another individual if that other individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Therefore, if you live in an urban area or if you have neighbors nearby, you should be extremely careful about where you fly your new drone and what kinds of pictures or videos you take.  If your neighbor is sunbathing in their backyard, and if they have reason to believe that your drone is invading their privacy, they could call the police and you could find yourself facing a criminal charge.  Section 942.10 of the Wisconsin Statutes makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to use a drone to photograph, record or observe another person in a place or location where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.