Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/15/google_schmidt_civilian_drones_nimby/

Ban drones taking snaps of homes, rages Google boss... That's HIS job, right?

Damn it, we're gonna need a new irony detector

By John Leyden

Posted in Government, 15th April 2013 10:31 GMT

Google supremo Eric Schmidt has demanded tough rules on civilians flying surveillance drones, branding the tech a threat to privacy.

The executive chairman of the internet advertising giant that snaps photos of millions of front doors worldwide is upset that cheap camera-toting aircraft can be used by anyone from terrorists to quarrelling neighbours: folks could use the flying gear to snoop on people next-door or, say, buzz a reviled neighbour's summer BBQ.

"How would you feel if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their backyard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?" asked Schmidt, whose company buys aerial photographs of the planet's surface and publishes them online for free.

The Google boss made the comments during an interview with The Guardian that was printed on Saturday.

Small remote-control drones, which can be fitted with cameras and other surprises, are readily available for hobbyists, businesses and governments. The kit can be deployed to track poachers, and cops have used the flying machines to locate marijuana farms and find fugitives, the Daily Mail adds.

The US Federal Aviation Administration is investigating how commercial drones may be safely introduced into US airspace. The tech is already used by military spooks to hunt and kill targets.

Schmidt wants tight controls if not an outright ban on the technology in private hands. "It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it ... it's not going to happen," he said.

The Google chief exec, who advises the Obama administration on technology issues, once famously said "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place" regarding the US government requesting access to citizens' search histories. He also blacklisted CNet for a year after its journalists published personal information about him hoovered up from, er, Google search results. ®