The Drone as Privacy Catalyst
Stanford Law Review Online, Vol. 64, pp. 29-33 (2011)
5 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2013 Last revised: 30 Jun 2014
Date Written: December 12, 2011
Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis could describe what a privacy violation looked like: sensational journalists armed with newly developed “instantaneous photographs” splashing pictures of a respectable wedding on the pages of every newspaper. Their influential 1890 article The Right To Privacy crystallized an image of technology-fueled excess, which the authors leveraged to jump-start privacy law in the United States. Today there is no story, no vivid and specific instance of a paradigmatic privacy violation in a digital universe, upon which citizens and lawmakers can premise their concern. The widespread domestic use of drones, however, may help restore our mental model of a privacy violation. They could be just the visceral jolt society needs to drag privacy law into the twenty-first century. The resulting backlash could force us to reexamine not merely the use of drones to observe, but the doctrines that today permit this use.
Keywords: privacy, surveillance, drones
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