Imagine you're at home. Out of the corner of your eye, you spy a drone. It's hovering just outside your window. What's it doing? Taking pictures? Spying on you? But, more important, what would you do?
That's the type of invasion-of-privacy concern posed by Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC), a company is Portland, Ore., that sells anti-drone technology it says will protect people from domestic drones, which have become increasingly available for prices as low as $500 online.
DDC is trying to raise $8,500 through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter for a Personal Drone Detection System. The system consists of three boxes that together create a "mesh grid network," also called a "Detection Grid." It would warn users about domestic drones with sensors that, through Wi-Fi, trigger an alarm or send alert messages to your tablet or smart phone.
DDC, currently in the process of securing patents for its technology, does not intend to counter military drones, as those "fly too high and are too sophisticated," the company states on its Kickstarter page. Rather, it aims to defend against ordinary people who may have access to drone technology.
"There are legitimate uses for domestic drones. But there are still concerns about invasion of privacy and surveillance by various entities," says Amy Ciesielka, founder of DDC, in the group's Kickstarter video.
Founded in 2013, DDC is dedicated to not only selling its anti-drone products, but also to spreading awareness of domestic drone usage – from police departments using them for surveillance to individuals mounting drones with GoPro cameras for home videos.
The trouble is there aren't yet many laws to regulate daily drone usage.
Last month, a drone crashed into the side of a skyscraper in downtown St. Louis, causing authorities to begin tracking down the owner. And in a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), a staunch critic of drone technology, explained that the Federal Aviation Administration does not yet have rules to regulate smaller, domestic drones.
"When is a drone picture a benefit to society? When does it become stalking? When does it invade privacy? How close to a home can a drone go?" Senator Feinstein, who had a drone crash outside her house, said in the interview.
The UK, for example, has laws prohibiting the use of recreational drones near buildings and all domestic drone usage must be cleared by the Civil Aviation Authority, notes The Guardian.
Although DDC is branding itself as a kind of do-it-yourself drone defense company in the absence of official laws regulating this issue, it remains to be seen whether its project will be funded – you only receive Kickstarter funding if you raise enough money to meet your stated goal – and whether anti-drone technology will even catch on before lawmakers do.
"Only technology can counter technology," DDC states in its promotional Kickstarter video. That is, if people really see a need.