Drone debate hits Hampton Roads

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A woman claims her last trip to Virginia Beach was ruined by a drone. She says the flying camera system followed her and several other women around and when she complained to security she was surprised by the reaction she got.

“I was just lying there on the beach with my face pretty much in the sand and I began to hear this whirring,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be identified. “I noticed it was hovering over people, specifically girls, and I was like ‘OK, that’s kind of weird’ and the part that really ticked me off was when it started hovering like butt level behind this girl. I went to security and their response was ‘Well I wish I could do something but we don’t know who this guy is and what he looks like so I’m really sorry that happened to you.”

Jimmy Olivero with SkyCamUSA says regulations for drones in the U.S. are still far behind other countries, leaving the door open for privacy concerns.

“You don’t want to fly directly above their head,” said Olivero, who uses drones for professional aerial photography and videography . “You don’t want to injure people or bother people or harass people with a drone. Stories like that always damage our reputation in our industry and we don’t like to hear it but it does happen. Technology is increasing and it’s making it easier and easier for the everyday person to fly a drone.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dictates that people have to fly drones below 400 feet, it has to be in an open space, and you’re not supposed to fly directly over people, but Olivero says there’s an increasing need to figure out how to even enforce what’s already law. Olivero looks at drones as the wave of the future, but he admits given the views you can get, it’s not hard to see potential problems if drones were in the wrong hands.

In 2013 The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to put the first state regulations in the country on domestic drone use, but many argued that those limitations are just a start.

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