Drone hovers over house, peeps into daughter’s room, mother says

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) – A California mom is alerting her community after she said she saw a drone hovering near her home. She said she believes it was spying on her daughter.

The Huntington Beach wife and mother said she spotted the drone Monday afternoon hovering above her adult daughter’s balcony in the backyard. She said it was like a Peeping Tom.

“I could hear a drone,” the unnamed mother said. “And then I just was walking up and I realized one kind of swooped down and was only, like, maybe five feet from me, looking right in.”

She said her daughter didn’t hear the drone because the TV was on.

“For her not to know that that was just sitting there viewing … which, she’s in there, you know,” the mother said. “I don’t want her seen, I don’t want anyone that close.”

It’s not the first time family members have seen the drone flying close to their windows. They called the police and posted a warning on the Nextdoor app.

“That’s an easy way to Peeping Tom,” the mother said. “I mean, if they can come right into your window and be looking in, that’s a problem.”

Residents posted comments on Nextdoor about drones and concerns that criminals may be using them to scope out neighborhoods, and people were left wondering about their privacy rights.

Eric Traut, a civil trial attorney, said using drones to spy on people is an invasion of privacy.

“The laws are kind of catching up with the technology now, fortunately. So, you could have a drone that’s half a mile away videotaping somebody in their bathroom or bedroom and be in violation of the civil code section,” he said. “It’s also a violation of penal code.”

The California law on drone regulation spells out that no drone pilot can enter the airspace of a person to capture images without consent, nor can they take photos or record video of a person engaged in personal, private or familial activities without approval.

“It’s exactly the same as a peeper standing in your backyard or from their backyard,” Traut said. “As I said, it doesn’t have to be a trespass. If you’re looking into an area where people have an expectation of privacy, whether it’s with a drone or physically doing it or binoculars or any other device, it’s a violation of the law.”

Traut recommends that people with privacy concerns get photos or video of drones they believe may be invading their privacy.

He said, if it is safe, a person could even follow the drone to get more information about the possible pilot.