Drones have become popular mainly used for commercial or recreational purposes. Despite their legitimacy and efficacy in surveillance, it’s concerning how some drone pilots infringe on people’s right to privacy. Recently, there has been a massive uproar by individuals claiming drones follow them. But why would a drone be following you?
A drone follows you mostly when spying, and a human operator directs it. You can quickly locate and ascertain a drone is following you by observing its frequency near your property, the noises, and using technologies like radio frequencies and radar detectors.
Most drones have infrared camera lights for night vision and positioning. This makes it simple to spot them at night using acoustic sensors and infrared motion detectors.
No one wants to be spied on, or do you? So, this article shows you how to spot a spying drone in daylight or at night and the legal actions to take if a drone is following you. In addition, you get to know why a drone would be following you.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for regulating airspace in the United States. Space above 400 feet is controlled and requires special permission from the FAA to navigate if you’re a drone pilot.
There are no federal laws prohibiting flying drones over private property; however, the rules vary between different states. For instance, operating a drone over 25 feet in a personal space in California is a trespassing offense that will attract heavy penalties and up to six months of jail time.
This article has a detailed guide on drone laws in the US.
A drone will follow you only when instructed by a human operator for different reasons. Most times is to collect confidential details about you or spy on your facility. Another reason would be when the government unprecedentedly decided to track people’s movement using drones. In addition, a law enforcement agency can use drones for surveillance when they suspect illegal activities in a particular area or private property.
The type of drone and camera quality will determine its spying capabilities regarding distance. Most drones are equipped with one or two cameras.
Basic drones have cameras that can only capture objects in close contact up to 30 feet away. Conversely, advanced drones are mounted with optical zoom lenses and high-quality image sensors that capture quality images and videos at a distance.
To find out more about drones and how far they can see click this link Can drone hear conversations?
Drones are common, and it may be difficult to detect one that’s particularly following you. Some signs that a drone may be following you include;
Drones are noisy and easily viewed from a distance and may sound nearer than they are. Based on your location, a drone may just be flying to a nearby lake or park or a freeway in drone friendly zone. If the pilot abides by the authorized distance, the flight is lawful. However, if the drone frequently flies or hovers over your premises and is too close, perhaps it’s spying on you.
Although drones are popular, we don’t see lots of them every time. There are drone-friendly areas to operate them freely; however, if you spot a drone even in restricted areas, you’re being followed.
Pick a random route and routine, then observe. If the drone is still around, report it to the relevant authorities and FAA.
A radio-counter surveillance system will help track down any drone near you. Drones constantly emit radio signals, and the waves usually start lower and gradually increase in range as the drone approaches. It decodes drone-generated waves and pinpoints the exact location where the signals are coming from.
An anti-drone radar detector is used to sense nearby drones. It detects WIFI signals and frequencies indicating the proximity of a particular drone.
The above methods are more applicable in daylight; however, it may be tricky to spot a drone at night. This is because they are tiny and not visible most times in the darkness. There are multiple ways to track a drone at night easily
Look for light since most camera drones have anti-collision lights for safe night flights. Depending on the type of drone, it could be a single permanent light source or two, with one blinking. The most common colors are green and red. Always observe the direction of the taillights; it will indicate where it’s filming.
Although not widespread, using infrared motion detectors is an effective method to spot a drone at night. Most drones install infrared illuminators to send information back to the user or camera, allowing them to see in the dark invisible to the human eye. Spotting an infrared illuminator source is a sure sign a drone is watching you, particularly if it’s pointing in your direction.
These acoustic sensors are expensive but effective, especially in a quiet environment. They detect nearby drones, even those without communication waves or poor signals. Acoustic sensors notice the slightest movement when a propeller starts turning, even for those quiet drones. Since they can distinguish drone-generated sounds, it’s unlikely to issue a false alarm.
Here's a guide to flying drones at night.
If you suspect a drone is following you, don’t even think about shooting it, that’s illegal. Shooting down a drone may attract hefty fines or jail terms of up to twenty years. According to the FAA guidelines, a drone is categorized as an aircraft under the protection of Federal laws. So, when you see a drone over your facility or following you, do this instead:
Most drone operators fly to capture general footage of particular areas and may not necessarily be following you. Know the reason they’re flying in your area and ask them to stop if you’re not comfortable.
Set up drone detection alarms to know when rogue drone operators invade your perimeters and act accordingly. These detection alarms recognize drones approaching from miles away and pinpoint the exact location. This information will help you launch a counter-drone and intercept the rogue drone pilot trespassing on your perimeters.
The FAA guidelines prohibit drone use for spying, trespassing, and harassment. If you talk to the drone operator and continue with their flying, know the exact complaint against them before reporting to local authorities. Additionally, check with the FAA if you can put up a No Drone Zone around your premises.
Explicitly document the incident by recording specific timelines and activities via video or pictures. The better if you capture the registration number, as it will form a piece of solid evidence when you report to the local authorities.
File a complaint on illegal drone activity accompanied by the factual information you collected to your local authorities. If the evidence shows that the drone is following you for no reason and it's trespassing, the police will investigate and prosecute the owner. However, the process from identifying the drone pilot to charging them may take longer.
Visual is a great way to spot a drone in daylight since there are more noise distractions. At night sounds are an excellent indicator to know if a drone is taking footage. Most drones’ propellers are noisy, and it’s hard to miss a quadcopter sound that’s closer than 100ft or other louder ones at 330 feet away. For quieter drones, an acoustic sensor will detect them miles away.
Yes, federal laws do not prohibit drone flying in the US; however, check with your state and local jurisdiction to know if the rule applies. In states like Georgia, Texas, or California, flying over private property is an offense, and you’ll be charged with trespassing and illegal surveillance. Contrary, a state like Oklahoma allows drone operations over private premises unless it’s the rural areas.
Read this article for more on drone laws over private property.
Yes, there are two methods to control illegal drone operations that threaten or harass others. First is radiofrequency jamming, which transfers radio RF energy towards the drone disabling its controls. The second method is spoofing, which involves a third party hijacking a drone’s control from a remote point.
Although modern drones are equipped with zoom lenses, most recreational ones cannot film you before you detect their noisy propellers or flashing lights. Therefore, it will require a high-quality drone to spy on you before noticing. Seemingly, advanced technology has developed detectors to help property owners sense drones and minimize the chances of trespassing. So, the next time you observe a drone frequenting your premises take necessary precautions and actions.