TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Debate on drones raises issue of safety vs. privacy

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, May 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Elmer Burger II looks up across the room at an architects' cocktail party as he hears the quick, repetitive chop of 4-inch helicopter blades cutting through the air.

The Tribune-Review drone just darts among tables where people stand talking, hovers over a buffet line and rises 15 feet in the air to survey the room. A tiny camera records what it sees.

Many participants at AIA Pittsburgh's annual Build Pittsburgh event said their expectations of privacy end when they leave home.

“We grew up with the Bond movies, and that's for real now,” Burger, 65, of Mt. Lebanon, says to a group of people.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering legislation to regulate aerial drones, something several other states have done. Yet wall-mounted surveillance cameras, overhead satellites and even cellphones ubiquitously capture scenes of daily life.

In moments such as the Boston Marathon bombing, those pieces of equipment can provide critical information to police.

“I prefer safety over privacy,” Sean Donnelly, 41, of Mt. Lebanon said during the party. “Everyone has access to document where you are.”

Amateur drones such as the Trib's helicopter — which is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and costs less than $50 — are changing privacy boundaries again.

The Trib drone flies only indoors and for a limited time. Slightly more expensive models are able to hover semi-discretely outside, peering into public places, bedrooms and backyards.

Banded together with emerging technologies to identify human faces, the machines will allow anyone to watch and record.

“There's a line to draw: If you're doing a little skinny-dipping, you want to be aware,” Michael Brunner, 45, of Robinson said with a smile. “I'm sure that will be defined over the next couple of years as we figure this out.”

Andrew Conte is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7835 or andrewconte@tribweb.com.

Add Andrew Conte to your Google+ circles.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
  2. Water main break floods Baldwin basements
  3. Bill seeks to give Pittsburgh police license plate info
  4. Tablets for Allegheny County Jail inmates deemed a success
  5. Path to authenticity led North Side pastor to God
  6. Beating victim from McKees Rocks recalled as skilled family man
  7. $1B rapid bridge replacement across Pa. aims for savings, safety
  8. Filing in Scaife case challenges subpoena request by his children
  9. Western Pa.’s ties to 2016 White House race extend beyond Santorum
  10. Child falls through window in Marshall-Shadeland, taken to Children’s
  11. Penn, Butler come alive at final OpenStreets event in Pittsburgh