Drone onsite in San Francisco

A week after clarifying that the use of a drone to photograph a property for use in its marketing is not to be considered a “hobby use” and is indeed illegal, regardless of whether the operator of the drone is directly compensated for the photography or not, the FAA has started issuing subpoenas to Realtors on the East Coast.

“It has completely blown up. We’re getting [subpoenas] all over the city and the Hamptons, and they’re just going to general counsel,” a source with Halstead Property told The Post on Monday. “It was a total shock.”

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by SFJohn

    Title is a bit misleading you know….

    • Posted by eddy

      I love it!

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Was going to say the same – I pictured neighbors with pitchforks, slashing realtors’ car tires.

        • Posted by joh

          I pictured CIA predator drones, with Realtors in the crosshairs.

  2. Posted by eddy

    Odd the FAA would take such a regional point of view on this issue. I’m sure there is a back story and I would be investigating some FOIA on the FAA to fine out if I were an attorney on the case. This is/should be a national issue and to be targeting NYC/Hamptons is strange in my opinion. At a minimum, they should just require a quick permit or something. But the issue of drones in general is one that will get massive attention in the coming years and the FAA is wise to get in front of it. Anyone that has played with one realizes the insane capabilities of these drones to act as creepy snooping devices. The biggest issue, however, isn’t the commercial use of these devices; it’s the private use of these devices that will be the largest issue.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      1) making an example – focus limited resources on one area for a full-scale crackdown, hence making headlines (see above!) and affecting all other areas as a result.

      2) a realtor pissed off the wrong local politician, who called his buddy the congressman, and the rest is history.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      There is a back story: People in Manhattan etc began complaining about drones “photographing property” hovering outside their high rise apartment windows as they dressed (or undressed).

  3. Posted by p3p

    While these can be used for creepy uses, my biggest worry is the safety issue. As the technology becomes more and more available, and you can bet it will as all technology does, I expect to soon see many of these buzzing around any public event, not only making a nuisance of themselves but also causing a hazard as they inevitably crash and hurt someone. It is only a matter of time.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Add to that malicious use. Expect drones to be banned around large public gatherings if they already haven’t.

      • Posted by p3p

        Not just public gatherings, they should be banned in any public space. For example, they shouldn’t be flying anywhere in San Francisco, in my opinion.

    • Posted by EBGuy

      AC 91-57 issued by the FAA already says “Select an operating site that is of sufficient distance from populated areas”. I guess the bigger issue is enforcement.

  4. Posted by JustLooking

    Any bets on when the first drone-based “slasher” film comes out?

  5. Posted by jose

    Oh, so its OK if its just my hobby that I like to look into people’s windows while they are dressing?

  6. Posted by frog

    Like all technologies, drones have good uses and bad uses. They are lowering the cost of things like mapping power systems in Africa, where they used to send out a guy and a measuring stick into the jungle – e.g. they never had good data. After an earthquake, modern drone technology could very likely make building inspection far faster and efficient.

    Your privacy is pretty much shot and a few bad actors are nothing compared to the ability to map a city in hours at an insanely low cost, when compared to how it’s being done now. And yes, currently there are large aircraft carrying millions of dollars in equipment, currently mapping almost every place in this country, and this is not new, it’s been going on for decades.

    Like most other anti-tech hysteria, this issue is mostly being argued an rumor and made up stories and with a complete lack of understanding how the world actually works and has been working for decades.

    • Posted by p3p

      I’m not worried as much about the privacy issues as I am about the safety and annoyance factors. As these become more and more prevalent, and they will, like any technology — you will see them in Walmart eventually — they’re going to start getting annoying. Go to any public parade or event or public place and there will start to be multiple of them buzzing around, controlled by people who don’t really know or care what they’re doing, getting in the way and being distracting. But worse, they will crash into people and property because of people who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t maintain them or modify them in unsafe ways. And not to mention people who will deliberately use them for nefarious or destructive purposes. This may not be happening now, but human nature being what it is, it is only a matter of time. That’s why regulation will be required.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

        Yeah, at some point drones will have to be designed to be non-threatening when crashing, pilots will need some form of a license, remote controls will have to have an identification/locking system to prevent unwanted use, an override system for law enforcement could be set up, or an auto-homing system in case the remote breaks down or the pilot is incapacitated.

  7. Posted by Ninong

    After reading “Realtors target of drone attacks,” I was looking for drones armed with hellfire missiles killing realtors. I was sadly disappointed.

  8. Posted by MysteryRealtor

    I’m waiting for one to fly over my house so I can shoot it down

    • Posted by EBGuy

      Perhaps a T-shirt canon could be employed without raising the ire of the local law enforcement officials.

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