Peeping drone? Seattle woman allegedly spied on by Skyris quadcopter

Peeping drone? Seattle woman allegedly spied on by Skyris quadcopter

A Seattle woman called the police after she found an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, hovering outside the window of her apartment, located on the 26th floor.

On Sunday, June 22, Lisa Pleiss noticed the drone at around 7:45 a.m. She immediately contacted her concierge who called Seattle Police to investigate. Pleiss believed that staying on the 26th floor of her apartment, which is located in downtown Seattle at the corner of Terry Avenue and Stewart Street, she had the required privacy to walk around naked in her apartment.

“It was freaky,” says Pleiss. “You don’t expect to be walking around indecent in your apartment and then have this thing potentially recording you.”

However, it seems that the drone was not peeping at Pleiss but was hovering near the apartment for a purpose. The spotted drone was made by Skyris Imaging, a Portland company that makes commercial drones. Joe Vaughn, who is the founder of Skyris Imaging, heard about the incident on Monday, June 23, and wasted no time to call Seattle Police.

“Yesterday, when I found out that there was a news story, I immediately contacted the Seattle Police Department, let them know my name, the name of my company, what we were there for and who my client was,” says Vaughn. “Then, they called my client to confirm that we were there for a reasonable purpose.”

Vaughn claims that his company’s drone was flying near Pleiss’s apartment on a legitimate job and did not even point towards her apartment at all. Vaughn explains that the spotted drone was one of the six drones the company uses to take skyline pictures for architects, developers and real estate agents.

Vaughn also points out the fact that his company uses drones only in areas where they had permission. When Pleiss spotted the quadcopter on Sunday morning, Vaughn was taking images for a developer planning a 20-storey office building. Vaughn highlighted that he does not hire out for the purpose of spying on people.

Drones help people like Vaughn as well as government in significant areas such as law enforcement, military, fire services and more. However, drones can also be used by tech savvy criminals to spy on people or for other notorious activities. A previous report indicates how criminals in the UK fitted infrared cameras to find and raid cannabis farms.

The U.S. government does not have proper regulations for the use of small drones. However, the easy availability and growing usage of drones will have to make the government sketch laws earlier than later that will regulate flying drones.


Updated: December 9, 2014 — 8:48 pm

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