Friday, October 03, 2014


“Intrusion on seclusion”–do robot drones have rights? Can they be shot down by neighbors?

by Larry Geller

Ok, so a man was arrested in New Jersey “after police say he shot down a neighbor’s remote control drone.”

It had to happen one day. Perhaps it has happened before, but here is a documented instance of a drone being shot down even though it was over a neighbor’s property.

A New Jersey man was arrested after police say he shot down a neighbor’s remote control drone.

According to investigators, officers with the Lower Township Police Department were called to a home in the 1000 block of Seashore Road on September 26th to investigate the report by a resident that his remote control helicopter (drone) was shot down.

[CBS Philly, New Jersey Man Accused Of Shooting Down Neighbor’s Remote Control Drone, 9/30/2014]

These things get complicated very quickly. There’s some discussion in this Washington Post article:

Man arrested for shooting down a neighbor’s drone (Washington Post, 10/2/2014).

A paper referenced at the end of the Washington Post article is interesting in its own right: Self-Defense Against Robots. The link is to an abstract, but the full paper can be downloaded from there. It includes an intriguing closing discussion: Robot Rights Against People (starting on page 59). Sure, as the paper notes,

At present, however, the idea of“robot rights” is in fact only a proxy for “robot‐owner’s rights.”

But the discussion extends to

Perhaps someday robots will achieve or simulate sentience to the point where society recognizes them as legitimate holders of some bundle of rights, be it those held by animals, or citizens, or something in between.

It’s all an interesting read, from the short CBS article through to a futuristic discussion of potential conflict between human and robot rights and privileges.

Note that in February, 2013 I asked: Does the 2nd Amendment give citizens the right to shoot down drones that are spying on them? (2/23/2013). Perhaps we’ll have an answer soon.

See also Disappeared News articles on drones over the years.


If I shoot a drone hovering over my property and state that I felt threatened, can I say I was "standing my ground" as a defense?

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out in the courts. Please keep us posted!


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