There’s drone drama in the Houston area.
We’re verifying the rules after noticing a lot of concern on social media coming from the Shadow Creek Ranch neighborhood.
One woman is really worried after repeatedly seeing a drone flying overhead while she was sunbathing in her backyard.
“I’m in my backyard trying to get some sun in my bathing suit...and someone is hovering their drone over my backyard,” she posted on Facebook. “I think it’s incredibly disturbing and disrespectful!”
Many agree with her.
“Well, because you don’t know what they’re up to and most of them have cameras,” one neighbor said.
“It’s an invasion of privacy,” said another. “I don’t want one in my backyard while I’m at my home.”
But is it legal?
Yes: KHOU 11 News verified that drones can fly over your house anytime.
TEGNA regional drone trainer Jason Barnett says rules are different for commercial drones, like Drone 11, and those used by hobbyists for personal use.
But similarities exist when it comes to flying over someone’s private property.
“It appears that if you’re flying over someone or over someone’s yard, someone’s private property, and you’re shooting them with the intent to capture video of that person in a manner that can be construed as surveillance, then you could be in violation of Texas law,” Barnett said.
In other words, it comes down to the drone owner’s intent. They cannot disclose, display, or distribute images without consent.
And, unlike certain intruders who may enter your private property, you cannot shoot a drone.
“There’s a lot that’s still being worked out, both at the federal and state level.. In terms of privacy and drones,” Barnett said.
For now, sunbathers in Shadow Creek Ranch and elsewhere may just have to cover up.
Keep in mind, drone operators must register with the FAA. And there are rules when it comes to where you can fly. Several apps make that easy.
Citizens do have the right to complain about drones to a homeowner’s association or local police, especially if one becomes a nuisance.
TEGNA Regional Drone Trainer
Varghese Summersett PLLC
Texas Constitution and Statutes