SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


The advances in technology that have resulted in the increase in the prediction as to the number of drones that may soon be in our skies—as many as seven million in 2020 alone—serve as a call to action. It serves as a call to action for those concerned with protecting individuals’ privacy without imprudently inhibiting the ability of law enforcement. It also serves as a call to action for those concerned with the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence focusing on the “reasonable expectation of privacy” standard. If the Federal Aviation Administration itself predicted six years ago that there would be 15,000 drones sold annually and today places that number at seven million, how can law enforcement and the courts determine what the public’s reasonable expectation of privacy should be regarding drones? If the technology advances allow for nearly constant increases in surveillance capabilities of drones from an amalgamation of technologies, it is time for the Court to deconstruct its broad “reasonable expectation of privacy” doctrine.