Associated today with the theatre of war, the widespread domestic use of drones for surveillance seems inevitable. Existing privacy law will not stand in its way. It may be tempting to conclude on this basis that drones will further erode our individual and collective privacy. Yet the opposite may happen. Drones may help restore our mental model of a privacy violation. They could be just the visceral jolt society needs to drag privacy law into the twenty-first century.
Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis knew what a privacy violation looked like: yellow journalists armed with newly developed “instantaneous photographs” splashing pictures of a respectable wedding on the pages of every newspaper. Their influential 1890 article The Right To Privacy crystallized an image of technology-fueled excess, which the authors leveraged to jump-start privacy law in the United States. [...]