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Not Over My Yacht: Rich Folks Are Worried About Spy Drones

More money, more problems.
May 20, 2015, 8:37pm
Image: Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Drones, like a lot of other expensive gadgets, can be great fun if you're rich. You could get an unmanned aerial vehicle to fetch you some champagne, for example, or deliver pink slips while you cackle on the green. But even the wealthy are starting to worry about the potential risks drones pose to their privacy.

The latest example of cash-flush folks getting heated about drones invading their personal space comes from Rebecca Toman, a London-based defamation lawyer, via a post in the news section of Wealth-X, a service that maps the connections between rich people so clients can find out who their next investor hangs out with. (Site subscriptions cost a yearly fee of $18,000.)

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According to Toman, "ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals and those in the public eye face yet another challenge as they seek to maintain their privacy: drones." Yes, the ultrawealthy are now getting worried about flying cameras.

The concern isn't without reason. There have already been examples of people using airborne cameras to take a peek into the world of the wealthy. Aerial photos of the lawns of notable rich people such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez in California revealed luscious green expanses maintained during a drought that is currently turning California into a deleted scene from Mad Max: Fury Road. Last year, the Argentine government flew drones over the homes of rich people in Buenos Aires and found 200 homes and 100 swimming pools that hadn't been declared on tax returns.

Without drones, that kind of invasion of privacy wouldn't have been possible, and if there's anything the rich are worried about, it's privacy.

Of course, it's also worth mentioning the times that drones were used to invade the privacy of famous people, even if they're not rich, in some pretty disturbing ways. For example, the case of Nelson Mandela being spied on in the hospital by a drone shows just the lengths paparazzi will go to find high profile people.

The rich and famous certainly aren't the only ones who share these concerns. Privacy regulation regarding hobby drones have been at the forefront of public discussion about the rules for flying them. So far, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn't put any solutions forward while drones owned by ad companies trawl the LA skies for cell signals and dudes are blasting their neighbours' drones with shotguns for getting a little too close.

So, the rich might be a little bit late to the party when it comes to concerns over drones, but clearly they have something to lose without rules in place. I mean, it's one thing to worry about a peeping Tom drone. It's another thing entirely to worry about drones busting you for keeping your hidden mansion green during a massive drought.

But who knows? We're talking about the rich after all. Maybe the dire plight of the incredibly wealthy will finally make the US government put some rules in place when it comes to unmanned eyes in the sky.