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Drones create the ultimate Peeping Tom situation

KIRO Radio host Tom Tangney says drones create the ultimate peeping Tom situation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

UPDATE: Tuesday evening

Joe Vaughn of Skyris Imaging in Portland, Oregon, says he owns the unmanned aerial device that alarmed a Seattle woman concerned about a “peeping drone.”

KING-TV reports says he contacted Seattle police when he learned of the news story to let them know who he was and what had happened.

He says he was hired by a developer in Seattle to snap a few photos of various points of interest. He says his company only flies over properties where they have permission.


Spying on the neighbors has reached a new level with the advent of personal drones outfitted with cameras.

While it used to just be people in first-floor or basement units concerned with peering eyes, now drones can bring those eyes to new heights.

A woman in Seattle reported this week that as she was looking out her apartment window, she saw something looking back: a drone.

“The woman was looking out her apartment window, near Terry Ave. and Stewart St., when she spied an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)—or “drone”—hovering outside her building,” said the Seattle Police Department’s account on the blotter.

“It’s like the ultimate Peeping Tom situation,” said KIRO Radio host Tom Tangney. “I’m amazed that the technology is that sophisticated already that private drone owners can actually do this.”

The pilots of the drone flying near the Seattle apartment building haven’t been located. But if they are, they actually face little consequence according to Seattle Police.

Seattle Police officer Patrick Michaud told KIRO Radio the drone flyers were not breaking any laws because it is legal to take photographs and video from any public place, and the FAA has not issued specific rules for recreational drone flying.

“This is another example of legislation behind technology,” said co-host John Curley. “They’re going to have to come up with it.”

But due to the nature of the devices, taking aerial photographs from a distance, Tom Tangney said there will have to be some allowances for capturing images of the public.

“We swoop in over Green Lake, well you’re inadvertently collecting all sorts of information about people,” said Tom. “At some point, you have to have some allowance for inadvertent snooping.”

The FAA is working with law enforcement to further clarify rules for unmanned aircraft systems, the agency said in a news release Monday.

For now though, Curley points out it’s really a free for all.

“Right now, it’s the wild, wild west of having drones fly over your houses.”

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