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France Cries Foul At World Cup "Spy Drone" 138

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the but-did-it-have-a-vuvuzela dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news of amateur drones appearing at the World Cup, quoting Ars Technica: "France's World Cup soccer team has filed a complaint with FIFA, claiming that someone used a small unmanned aircraft to spy on the team's training camp near São Paulo, Brazil as players prepared for their match against Honduras Sunday, the BBC reports. The quadrocopter appears from video to be a Phantom II autonomous micro-drone with a video camera.

'Apparently, drones are being used more and more,' France's manager Didier Deschamps told the BBC. 'We don't want intrusion into our privacy. It's hard to fight.' Deschamps did not comment on who might be behind the surveillance but said in an interview with Football Italia that he believed the drone was operated by one of France's potential opponents or by a French news agency."
Police later captured the drone operator, who claimed just to be a fan bitten by a bit too much curiosity.
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France Cries Foul At World Cup "Spy Drone"

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  • by jargonburn (1950578) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:15AM (#47252347)
    I like my privacy.
    In many ways, I would like to say "shoot the damn thing!" but depending on local laws that could get ugly. This camp was private property and closed to the public, right?

    Still, there must be some way to deter such drones. Capture, and release after disabling the camera? If the drone gets damaged during the capture...well...C'est la vie!

    Of course, if it's not private property, my level of sympathy would decrease greatly.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A drone is more like a telescopic lens camera and a directional antenna pointed at you - so even in the public space there are issues imho.

      • by CaptQuark (2706165) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @04:27AM (#47252669)
        I wish people would stop using the word "Drone" unless it is a truly autonomous vehicle. What this was is a Remote Controlled quadcopter operated by a fan that wanted to watch their practice session.

        Arial photography is used in many situations. A traffic helicopter, a blimp at sporting events, small planes, balloons, and even kites have been used to capture pictures and video from the air. (Kite photography circa 1889 http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~jeff... [ucsb.edu] )

        If the fan had been in a tall office building next to the practice field instead, would this have been news?

        I agree that the use of toy helicopters to carry cameras is a new concern for some people, but stop using the word "drone" just to sensationalize it.

        ~~
        • by Molt (116343) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @04:38AM (#47252695)

          The use of the word drone to describe these is correct.

          The Oxford English Dictionary includes the definition for a Drone as 'A pilotless aircraft or missile directed by remote control', a use that dates back at least to 1946 ("The Navy's drones will be..led—by radio control, of course—to a landing field at Roi."). There's no definition listed for a completely autonomous unit.

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            It is accurate and misleading at the same time. People think of drones as military style drones while small RC aircraft are usually called RC models and have been for decades. The AMA is not happy about the use of word drone because they have had a very good relationship with the FAA up till now.
            As to RC aircraft with cameras. I remember reading about people putting cameras on RC planes back in the 70s. Of course that was in the days of film.

            This was a guy with radio control quad or a guy with a drone depen

          • > There's no definition listed for a completely autonomous unit.

            "Orderly legal command: Step to the right, meatbag, errr, uh, citizen."

        • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @05:43AM (#47252803)

          Arial photography is used in many situations.

          Yet many people despise it. I blame it on typography elitism.

        • by rvw (755107)

          I wish people would stop using the word "Drone" unless it is a truly autonomous vehicle.

          Do you want to say the drones the US sends to bomb the Taliban are not drones? I'm quite certain they are controlled by someone in the US. Maybe they can find their way back to safety if the connection is lost, but they are in no way autonomous. In that definition a V2 or Tomahawk is a drone, and everybody agrees that they are not.

        • I wish people would stop using the word "Drone" unless it is a truly autonomous vehicle. What this was is a Remote Controlled quadcopter operated by a fan that wanted to watch their practice session.

          Drones are not a truly autonomous vehicle, but I agree that the word "Drone" is being misused. I believe that "R/C Aircraft" is to "Drone" like "boat" is to "ship".

          You wouldn't call an aircraft carrier a boat, and you wouldn't call a dinghy a ship. Same could be said about small R/C planes not being called "Dro

        • I wish people would stop using the word "arial" unless they're referring to a font.
      • by Drethon (1445051)

        A drone is more like a telescopic lens camera and a directional antenna pointed at you - so even in the public space there are issues imho.

        Well if someone can basically walk a cell phone to the same location...

    • by Splab (574204)

      Even if you are in public, local laws might prevent you from snapping away; usually people must have the ability to opt out of their picture being taken, which is pretty easy, when someone is pointing a camera at you, however, when a drone flies by, it's next to impossible.

      The other day I was stalked by a drone in a park, which I must say, is rather unsettling, don't really care about it taking pictures, but those propellers are aggressive and when the drone is only 2 meters from your head, you do start to

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        Even if you are in public, local laws might prevent you from snapping away; usually people must have the ability to opt out of their picture being taken

        Not in the US, and not in many Western nations.

        You have a right to prevent the commercial use of your picture and you have a legal right to prohibit publication of pictures of you that mislead or defame.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In many ways, I would like to say "shoot the damn thing!" but depending on local laws that could get ugly. This camp was private property and closed to the public, right?

      While it is probably still illegal you could use paintball or soft air guns to mess with it. A stray bullet won't be as problematic.
      The cooler option would be a counter drone with a spray paint can.
      Can't take any pictures if the lens is bright orange.

    • by gsslay (807818)

      I think it's unlikely that France would be training for the World Cup at the local public park.

    • If the drone gets damaged during the capture...well...C'est la vie!

      C'est la guerre would be much more appropriate. Celebrity security bodyguards will be soon be toting long range bird guns to ensure their customers' privacy.

      I'd personally recommend a Browning BPS 10 gauge with Tungsten Super Shot loads.

    • I observed during an ARRL field day many years ago that if you want to stop small R/C aircraft from operating near you, simply tune an antenna and begin operating a high powered 6 meter transmitter. The planes will eventually crash into something or fly away from you.

      Conversely, never host a R/C aircraft event and an amateur radio event at the same park at the same time.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      simple get another quad and hang a net from it. Fly it above the offending quad and tangle the props and land with it.
      In the US you own the airspace up to about 500 feet over your land so it should be completely legal if done safely. AKA don't do it over people.

    • EMP? :D

  • Other consequences (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:20AM (#47252361)

    They are still at $1000 but once these toys fall below a tenth of that price, some things will have to change.

    It will start with laws to regulate their possession and fines for illicit uses, but it will also promote a business of countermeasures.

    Nude beaches, celebrity mansions, "secret" open air activities or even high end hotels that want to guarantee some degree of privacy to their customers, will want a way to block their use.

    Whoever knows how to make an anti-drone device better patent it quickly and put it on Amazon for hundreds of bucks. Clients will soon come.

    • I most civilized countries the use of fire arms for this purpose would be illegal. Just make protection drones that force the intruding drones down. It would be fun to watch the drone wars.
      • by meerling (1487879)
        Squads of boomerang throwing 'security specialists'. ;)
        Kite fighters whose fighting kits have a special 'fringe' hanging from them that will get tangled in rotors if they get too close.
        (Yes, Kite fighting is a thing, has been for a really long time, it's just not popular in most of the world.)
        Your own remote controlled aircraft that drops shiny colorful celebratory strands that can conveniently get tangled in rotors.
        A horde of people with lasers desperately trying to play with imaginary flying kitties. Do n
    • by Tom (822)

      Whoever knows how to make an anti-drone device

      It's called a gun, and I'm quite sure we'll see it in action soon. Other than that, if you don't want to go lethal, nets around your premisis might work quite well, especially when they are so thin that the camera won't spot them (it's a low-resolution, shaky image on low-end models, so that's not very hard to do).

  • Don't play foozball outside. Duh.

  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:58AM (#47252443) Homepage

    It's worth noting why the French team in particular, so vehemently object to drones, in a way that other nationals might not, or at least might do so less outspokenly.

    In France you have ownership of your own image. A photographer needs to have your permission if they want to take a photo that has you as the main subject.

    Obviously they don't need permission if you're just an incidental bystander or a face in a crowd. But if you're one of the primary subjects, then in France, you have to give your permission.

    This also applies to merchandising and the law is often used in a similar way to trademarking or endorsement.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      It's worth noting why the French team in particular, so vehemently object to drones, in a way that other nationals might not, or at least might do so less outspokenly.

      In France you have ownership of your own image. A photographer needs to have your permission if they want to take a photo that has you as the main subject.

      Obviously they don't need permission if you're just an incidental bystander or a face in a crowd. But if you're one of the primary subjects, then in France, you have to give your permission.

      This also applies to merchandising and the law is often used in a similar way to trademarking or endorsement.

      If the ball is the primary subject, then they don't need players permission.

      • by swillden (191260)

        If the ball is the primary subject, then they don't need players permission.

        A judge is unlikely to buy that argument, unless there is something really unique and distinctive about their ball -- other than it being theirs, of course. Otherwise, the prosecutor will just argue that if you'd really been after a picture of a ball, you'd have used your own.

  • Probably the Germans doing reconnaissance on the French squad.
  • by goodEvans (112958) <<ei.atnaltaria> <ta> <snaved>> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @04:00AM (#47252625) Homepage

    Paintball gun. Non-damaging to the drone, preserves privacy. Simples.

    • by wed128 (722152)

      Non-damaging to the drone

      These inexpensive toy drones are pretty lightweight. I doubt a paintball *wouldn't* damage the drone...

    • Paintball gun. Non-damaging to the drone, preserves privacy. Simples.

      The drone in the article can fly about 1000 ft above ground level. Hope you're a good shot!

    • Assuming you are shooting the paintball at the average velocity of 91.44 m/s (300 ft/s is the maximum velocity that fields will allow you to use although the paintball could be fired faster but with less accuracy), the paintball's maximum height it could obtain would be 426 m (1397.64 ft) above the shooter. However at this height, the paintball has no more energy.

      If the drone is flying at 1000 ft (304.8 m), you can expect the paintball to be moving at 48.86 m/s (160.30 ft/s). At this speed, the paintball pr

      • by dkman (863999)
        If you got it to one of the blades would the blade "chop" it, splattering it and creating a general mess or potentially damaging the blade?

        But I agree that you're more likely to miss and splatter your car in the parking lot.
  • Anyone else notice the shadow of the drone flying over the actual matches (with accompanying replay footage from said drone after certain plays)? Was I the only one fixated on the shadow during the Germany vs Portugal match to see if it was just the usual camera running on wires up and down the field until it went circling in ways only a drone could? The shadow ended up being a corner-of-view distraction to me - I wonder if the players see it moving and think a player might be coming up behind them.
    • Most high importance stadiums have cameras on wires, as you said you thought it was initially - but are you aware that they aren't just on wires that allow them to move forward and backward? These days they are connected to four wires (north, south, east and west), and can travel in all directions, can be lowered to the height of the pitch, raised to a given maximum height, and do all sorts of things (the wires have pulleys at each end, which lengthen or shorten the wire as required - work all 4 in tandem

      • I wasn't aware of that. I am not a huge sports fan, other than the World Cup every 2 years (Men's and Women's), so thank you for the lesson!
      • I actually believe that "drones" were being used at the matches. They were certainly used at the Olympics this year.

        I also think the objections do have to do with the thought that it was another team trying to watch training.

        The Phantom 2 has a range (out of the box) of approximately 800m. So whoever was controlling it was nearby. It might have been possible to track him/her down.

        I've been told by my friend who has one that it uses point-to-point 802.11 in order to communicate, so you can imagine all sor

  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @05:52AM (#47252829) Journal

    They bring them down! [latimes.com]

  • Football is, like basketball, largely a game of reaction.
    How could "spying" on a training camp be that useful?

    • by iksbob (947407)

      Perhaps when it comes to simple ball handling and player-on-player action, that's true. However, like all team sports, strategy can be applied with respect to general placement of players, passing and the like. Ideally, these strategies should leverage each player's individual strengths, thus making them unique to a given team. Opposing teams could extract much of this strategy from existing game footage, but not newly developed strategies (such as those designed to counter a specific opposing team) or tact

  • We need a revision to the common law statues around private airspace. This law is horribly outdated in the modern environment.

    Reasonable provisions could be made, for example, one has complete control of all airspace 500m above their property. This would not interfere with any "real" aircraft but would prohibit spying by cheap quadcopters without a warrant.

  • "someone used a small unmanned aircraft to spy on the team's training camp"

    A 410 loaded with some bird shot and choked right would solve that problem real easy for you and be of no real danger (except for the drone).

    • by ScentCone (795499)

      A 410 loaded with some bird shot and choked right would solve that problem real easy for you and be of no real danger (except for the drone).

      Yes, that would definitely take out the drone, and would probably get the LiPo battery nicely on fire, too, as it comes crashing down in urban Brazil. And certainly no danger, except for possible eye damage to someone a hundred meters away, and that whole whatever-the-equivalent-is-in-Brazil part where discharging a firearm in town and/or at someone else's property is a For Real felony. Otherwise, excellent plan.

  • I love my Phantom II with camera gimbal!
  • Teams of the future will need to have tall poles with hoisted camouflage netting to counter to drone spying (assuming they cannot find indoor facilities). Perhaps also outward facing strobe lights to distort the camera's imaging.
  • by judoguy (534886) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:36AM (#47253531) Homepage
    ...the phrase "That's why they make shotguns" applies here.
    • So when the birdshot and the flaming bits of drone (LiPo batteries kind of catch fire when punctured) come down upon a person, I hope they hold the shooter liable for any injury and damages.

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        birdshot fired at near vertical angle doesn't come down hard enough to hurt someone, and your fire scenario is just laughable. fret much?

        • If you fire from the ground, the birdshot will hit the ground near the same velocity that it left the barrel at. That's conservation of energy.

          • by chihowa (366380) *

            Maybe on the moon, but not on this planet. [wikipedia.org]

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            completely wrong, most of the energy is lost to the atmosphere, the birdshot will rain down with much less energy than required to even break the human skin. Even high powered rifle bullets come down at 250-325 feet per second, which either causes bruise or is just enough to break the skin.

            in short, real world once again trumps over-educated person with incomplete knowledge who thinks they know something.

  • Don't they mean watching their acting lessons? I'm wondering which team gets the best chance at an academy award this year.

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