By ANAEL GAVIZON
With the project we did for this week, a scavenger hunt that canvasses public records and other information available just by knowing the address, we have realized how much access we have to other people’s lives.
Of course it depends on the laws in each state. However, in Florida (where we will be at least four years) the Chapter 119 of the Florida statutes, commonly known as Florida’s “Public Records Law,” provides information on public records in Florida, including policies, definitions, exemptions, general information on records access, inspection, examination and duplication of records.
One always thinks that less regulation is better, there is a valuable transparency. The question is if laws should change as technology keeps moving on and developing? As we realized in the scavenger hunt, most of the records that we needed to look for were also available online. Should we trust the Internet that much? Does it mean that is available to anyone in the world who wants to access the website?
The dilemma is not too far from other simple things. Another thing that people have been discussing since 2015 is privacy rights and drones. Drones have become something more common through the years; whether it is for videos, reporting, visuals or just for fun (we even have drones in the School of Communication). However, currently there are laws to protect individuals against people stalking or spying on them in their homes but there are no federal laws in place that would protect individuals from being spied on by a drone.
Nobody knows where state law stands. Some argue that low-flying drones are trespassers. From the late 16th century, the common law took the position that property ownership extended infinitely into the heavens. Everything changed in the era of aviation establishing a limit. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1946 decision in U.S. v. Causby, it has been generally accepted that the property rights of a homeowner end 83 feet above the ground. That’s awfully close to the ground. Peeking in apartment window when recording high definition video from 100 feet up doesn’t present any sort of challenge.
Some suggested that property owners had to be granted control of the airspace to exclude any drones below a specific altitude; others said that there had to be an agreement with companies. It is still an unresolved matter, however, Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts introduced legislation last March that aims to create privacy protections and data reduction requirements about the information a drone collects, disclosure provisions for when data collection is happening and warrant requirements for law enforcement.