Ohio City Considering Anti-Drone Voyeurism Law

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Recently, the Hamilton City Council in Ohio proposed a new local ordinance that would specifically prohibit the use of drones to commit voyeurism in response to complaints from a resident that someone in his neighborhood was harassing individuals with a drone by recording images. The complainant explained to the Council that a man was operating a drone and peering into windows in his neighborhood, flying over children playing in their yards and even chasing a woman down a street. The resident took video footage of the drone operations and reported the operator’s actions to the police, but no specific law or regulation applied to this operator’s activity.

The proposed law would make it illegal to use drones “to invade the privacy of another’s home, office, enclosed space or the private space of another.” Further, drone flights over properties (such as individual homes) would be prohibited without the owner’s consent, along with flying over crime scenes or emergency scenes. The proposed law would also make it illegal to operate drones “in a manner that recklessly endangers persons, wildlife, or property or in a manner that harasses, disturbs, intimidates, annoys or threatens persons.”

Lastly, the proposed law would ban drone flights over public parks and schools as well as municipal buildings and property owned by the City of Hamilton School District, Hamilton Parks Conservancy, or the City of Hamilton. An exception for TVHamilton drones would be included in the law.

Other ordinances limiting drone flights can be found in this part of Ohio, including in Youngstown, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and the Sandusky County Park District (and of course, many similar ordinances exist across the country). Whether this new proposal is ultimately adopted, it serves as a strong reminder to check local laws and regulations before you fly a drone.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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