History is clear — emerging technology and personal privacy inevitably come into conflict. Whether it’s a complaint about cleavage showing up on a Google Map Street View or police misuse of cell-phone spoofing tech, the same amazing discoveries that allow us to easily navigate unfamiliar city streets can also be used to create voyeurs on a mass scale. It goes without saying that drones are not immune to this conflict so maybe this would be an apt time to discuss nudity and drones.
Disregarding the thrill-seeking streakers or Girls Gone Wild wannabes, there are average people who enjoy being nude within the confines of their own private property. They are not asking to be ogled nor are they seeking attention. Perhaps they simply want to feel the sun on their skin from the privacy of their backyard. And, for decades this kind of homebound nudism has worked out fine with the availability of raised patios or privacy fencing. With the ever increasing supply and availability of domestic drones however, casual nudists now have to worry about voyeurism from the sky.
Case in point: Mandy Lingard of Melbourne, Australia found to her horror that one of her nude sunbathing sessions in her backyard had been filmed by a real-estate drone and then placed on a billboard. The advertisement of a nearby house also made it into a real-estate magazine and on to a website.
The real-estate company realized its mistake and took down the ad but the damage had been done. It’s not the first time the drone community has received a PR black-eye from a user’s negligence or stupidity (a quick proofing of the ad would have surely revealed the inclusion of a nude lady).
It’s pretty clear that privacy laws will catch up with drone photography. And when it does, the drone community needs to be able to show that it is capable of some measure of self-policing lest the entirety of privacy rule-making be crafted strictly by bureaucrats. Drone users need to think about codifying some kind of self-regulatory Code of Conduct.
Drones are not going away and neither are naked people. Sure, it’s true that some people will actively seek drone-photographed nudity (see “Drone Boning”). However, the vast majority of nudists just want to be naked within the privacy of their own home or colony (and, yes, it’s inevitable that some idiot drone user is going to surreptitiously film a nudist camp, right?).
It’s time to strip away the mistaken notion that responsible drone users are not interested in honoring people’s privacy and put on the garments of responsibility and self-regulation.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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