Learn how to avoid drone surveillance to protect your privacy

Mar 5, 2023, 5:00 AM

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

I share a ton of tips to protect your privacy online. Do this quick 30-second check to keep your Google and Facebook accounts safe if you haven’t yet.

What about when you leave your home? Just about everywhere you go, you’re being watched.

Not all cameras are out in the open, either. I once found more than a dozen cameras in an Airbnb I rented. Here are my best tips for spotting hidden cams in a rental, new apartment, home, or hotel room. But now we have drones to deal with.

I spy with my eye a drone in the sky

The other day, I heard a familiar buzz while swimming in my backyard pool. Sure enough, a drone hovered overhead and quickly vanished when I shooed it away with my hand. That’s how I got the idea for this post.

The legality of drone surveillance varies by country and state, but if the drone is flying on your private property and recording you without your consent, call the police. It’s a violation of your privacy.

It’s difficult to learn who owns a drone. In my case, it flew out of my eyesight in seconds. Had my iPhone been within reach, I would have taken a photo of the drone. Some drones have their registration numbers visible, usually in case the owner loses sight of it.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains a database of drone owners who have registered their drones with the FAA. To search the FAA drone owner database, you need the drone’s registration number. Here’s where to search the FAA drone owner database.

The things you should never do to a drone

There are effective, perfectly legal ways to avoid surveillance. There are also a few ways that are illegal for private citizens.

The Federal Aviation Administration legally protects drones from being:

● Shot at: Firing a gun into the sky is dangerous and illegal. Just don’t do it.
● Interfered physically: This includes lasers and other objects.
● Disabled or otherwise tampered with: Using a jammer and hacking are criminal acts.

Now we have that out of the way, here’s what you can do.

Carry an umbrella

It might feel cumbersome, but an umbrella is a cheap and practical way to protect your privacy.

In rainy or extra sunny weather, it’s a no-brainer. You might get some strange looks, but who cares?

Get one now while you’re thinking of it. This tiny umbrella is as big as a cellphone, so you could keep it in your pocket.

This one is bigger but will hold up better in wind and rain. There are tech products to protect your data and privacy in many ways.

Tap or click for eight picks that can do everything from mute your mic to protect your credit cards.

Use your surroundings as cover

Own a drone or know someone who does? I bet you’ve had to deal with someone throwing something at it. That is not the right way to avoid drones.

You should take a more passive approach. In bad weather — heavy rain, fog, and wind — drones have difficulty flying or getting great footage. Score for you.

When it’s sunny and you see a drone buzzing overhead, find a place it’s less likely to spot you. Trees, alcoves, awnings, and tunnels are all excellent places to tuck away while the drone passes.

Wear an invisibility cloak

Get this: Researchers at the University of Maryland found that patterned sweaters can thwart AI systems.

These sweaters use the same images engineers use to train AI systems to recognize objects. Wear one, and instead of seeing you as a person, the system might interpret you as an animal, like a giraffe. Fashion brands are catching on. Italian startup Cap_able sells clothes with these patterns that confuse facial recognition software, also known as “adversarial patches.”

Be warned, though: These garments are pricey. A hoodie will set you back about $450. Like all new inventions, you can expect the price to decrease if these catch on.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Kim Komando

family photo being taken at holiday event...

Kim Komando

Clever tech hacks for less stress this holiday, from Amazon spoilers to family pics

Before you dive headfirst into the festive frenzy, I've got tech tips that'll sprinkle a little magic on your celebrations.

2 days ago

iphone and iphone box...

Kim Komando

Unlock your iPhone’s full potential: 12 must-know tips & win an iPhone 15

I’m still discovering new things on my iPhone. No matter your model, I bet there are hidden features you’ll be happy to know.

5 days ago

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Kim Komando

To do: Change your smart speaker settings before the holidays

It’s worth changing a few settings to make your voice assistants safer when guests come knocking for the holidays.

6 days ago

person either turning on or off their Alexa system...

Kim Komando

Your smart assistant is listening, but does that impact the ads you see?

Let’s take a deep look at how Alexa and Siri have the ability to use your conversations to create profiles.

8 days ago

bunch of random phones scattered on the table. iPhone, Pixels, Android...

Kim Komando

Don’t want to drop $1K on a new phone? Do this instead

You don’t have to shell out a lot of money — jump into the settings and use a little elbow to make your current phone sparkle.

13 days ago

woman holds money and types into computer...

Kim Komando

What’s cheaper, Airbnb or a hotel? Here’s the shocking answer

If you love to travel but want to save money, this report is worth paying attention to and Kim Komando will explain why.

19 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Learn how to avoid drone surveillance to protect your privacy