Secrets of the Deep: Defining Privacy Underwater

47 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2019

See all articles by Annie Brett

Annie Brett

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: September 14, 2019


The drones are coming, But not just to your neighborhood skies – to the world’s oceans. From recreational robots designed to autonomously follow divers and record video of them to low-cost, remotely operated submersibles that put ocean exploration in the hands of the general public to sophisticated military submersibles able to autonomously gather intelligence throughout the oceans, the underwater drone market is exploding. But unlike on land, this explosion has not been accompanied by similar discussion of privacy concerns. Instead, the ocean’s rapid shift away from an inaccessible operational sanctuary is one that is happening largely silently. And it is one that is happening in an economically critical environment with far fewer legal protections in place than on land. This Article examines this monumental shift, exploring for the first time privacy and trade secret protections from underwater surveillance. I argue that privacy protections are already unconstitutionally eroded underwater and must be strengthened in the face of widespread drone use.

Suggested Citation

Brett, Annie, Secrets of the Deep: Defining Privacy Underwater (September 14, 2019). 84 Missouri Law Review 47 (2019). , Available at SSRN:

Annie Brett (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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