New PA ‘Peeping Tom’ drone law protecting people’s privacy

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PENNSYLVANIA -- A new law in Pennsylvania is aiming to protect people’s privacy from drones.

The 'Unlawful Use of Unmanned Aircraft’ law, which goes into effect January 12 will prohibit anyone from getting surveillance of someone in a private place using a drone.

Officials in York County say they've seen the problem with drones and Peeping Toms first-hand.

“One of our residents reported that she saw a drone outside one of her windows," said Sergeant Braxton Ditty, Newberry Township Police Department.

The new law will require police to determine if the person behind the act knowingly or intentionally used the drone for footage before a fine can be given.

“What our officers will have to do is they’ll have to follow up and investigate, have we ever seen this drone before, do we know who may operate this drone," Ditty added.

Drone expert and professor at Harrisburg University, Albert Sarvis says part of the problem the fact that camera capabilities in drones have advanced in the last year.

“Some of the drones that are coming out now have zoom cameras that are built right into them," said Sarvis.

Sarvis says those using a drone for fun that don’t understand the law, may run into problems.

“They have this new toy or piece of equipment that they can go out and fly and they figure wherever they can fly they can do it," said Sarvis.

That's why Sarvis stresses the importance to be mindful of where you’re flying your drone, while also following FAA regulations and knowing the laws.

“Use common sense don’t fly over someone else’s property. Be aware that they can be conscious of you flying and not aware that you aren’t taking pictures of them, it’s easy to be misinterpreted that’s for sure," said Sarvis.

If found guilty of using a drone for the wrong reasons, officials say you could face up to $300 in fines.

“Drones are at the top of our list. We have to keep people safe," said Ditty.

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