Drones, Law and Public Policy, Presentations, Keynote Speeches & Expert Appearances, Privacy

A Look At Privacy Rights After OC Man Destroys Drone Flying Near His Home

KPCCGregMcNeal.jpgToday I appeared on KPCC’s AirTalk to discuss an incident in Orange County where a drunk man destroyed a drone valued at $1350.


Here is a video of the incident:
Destruction of property in California is a crime, and is a felony when the property is valued at more than $400.

This drone was being operated on a public street by LuckySeven company.  There is a lot of confusion among many regarding which laws (Federal vs State vs Local) apply to drones.  In this case, the intoxicated man was not being harmed in any way, and yet, took it upon himself to maliciously destroy property belonging to another person.

While some callers expressed concerns regarding the noise associated with drones, that doesn’t justify taking the law into their own hands.  I may be annoyed or irritated by my neighbors lawn mower, but that certainly does not give me the right to walk across the street with a baseball bat and smash it to bits.

To listen to the entire interview, click HERE.



Drones, Law and Public Policy, Presentations, Keynote Speeches & Expert Appearances

Drones And Agriculture: Presentation At The Integrated Pest Management Symposium

GregMcNealDronesInAgricultureOn March 24, 2015 I will be presenting “Drones And Agriculture: The Legal Framework.”  The presentation will be part of the 8th Annual Integrated Pest Management Symposium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The specific panel is part of a four part series that day, entitled “Advanced Technology for Precision IPM: Latest Developments with Examples from the Field and Legal Considerations.”

Drones, Law and Public Policy, National Security, Presentations, Keynote Speeches & Expert Appearances

McNeal to Testify before Congress on Domestic Drone Security Implications

GregMcNealDronesHomelandSecurityTestimonyOn March 18, Pepperdine School of Law professor Gregory S. McNeal will testify before the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. The hearing is entitled “Unmanned Aerial System Threats: Exploring Security Implications and Mitigation Technologies.”

McNeal, recently named in a list of “Seven of the Most Influential Players in the Drone Industry” by Dronelife, will be speaking from his research and writing regarding the domestic use of non-military drones. He will acknowledge that while the emergence of unmanned aerial vehicles “raises understandable concerns that may require employment of mitigation technologies,” Congress should be cognizant of four issues before taking tangible steps:

  1. Congress should ensure that agencies are distinguishing between possible threats and probable threats; Congress should also ensure that agencies are avoiding fear-based appeals focused on worst-case scenarios.
  2. Congress should ensure that agencies are assessing risk by calculating both the probability of a successful attack and the magnitude of losses that might be sustained in a successful attack.
  3. Congress should ensure that before any funds are spent on security measures, agencies engage in risk assessment and a formal cost-benefit analysis using best practices.
  4. Congress should ensure that specific individuals at the department of homeland security are responsible for conducting these analyses and reporting their methodology.  Congress may also want to provide funds to the centers of excellence for an independent evaluation of threats.

The March 2015 hearing will be McNeal’s third time testifying before Congress. He notes that each time has been tied to research that he published while a faculty member at Pepperdine.

GregMcNealHomelandSecurity“Testifying before Congress is a great way to influence law and public policy. While many law professors focus on influencing courts, much of my work has been focused on influencing laws before they are written — that’s probably because I teach courses like Criminal Law and Legislation which are directly related to statutes. Being involved with the development of the law allows me to stay focused on emerging issues and I’ve found makes for a more enriching experience in the classroom.”

McNeal has aided state legislators in drafting legislation related to unmanned aircraft and advised executive branch agencies at the state and federal level on matters related to drones. He has testified before the House Judiciary Committee about drones and privacy and has testified before the House Foreign Relations Committee about counterterrorism. He serves as a voting member of the ASTM technical committee creating scientific standards to govern drones and their operation. He is currently an academic member of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force.

He has authored over a dozen law review articles, and is a co-author of the casebook Anti-Terrorism and Criminal Enforcement and co-editor of the book Saddam On Trial: Understanding and Debating the Iraqi High Tribunal. He is the editor of a forthcoming book Cybersecurity and Privacy, author of the forthcoming book Prosecuting Terrorism (under contract with Oxford University Press), and is conducting research for books about civilian and military uses of drones.

Drones, Law and Public Policy, Presentations, Keynote Speeches & Expert Appearances

7 Of The Most Influential Players In The Drone Industry

Drone Life magazine has named me one of the “7 Most Influential Players In The Drone Industry”  This is a fun honor, especially given the great names on the list.  There are many others who could just as easily have been on this list, but I nevertheless appreciate being named.

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

The Drone Revolution is upon us. Every day there is a new headline. Every day someone starts a new company. People are flocking to this industry and it is creating a snowball effect of popularity and investments. But as with any rise in technology, there are certain ‘powers that be’ making the whole thing happen. Dronelife spoke to these players to help you put faces to names and get their take on the rise of the drone:

Greg McNeal is an associate professor of law at Pepperdine University and a contributor to Forbes who writes about the ever-evolving status of drone laws and regulations. Most recently, McNeal was the first to discover the inadvertently published FAA documents analyzing the economic impacts of the administration’s proposed drone regulations. This discovery and subsequent media frenzy forced the FAA to officially publish the long awaited Notice for Proposed Rulemaking.

What excites you most about the future of the drone industry?

“The rapid pace of innovation means that we will certainly be surprised by the amazing things that people will do with unmanned aircraft in the future. While the things people are doing now are impressive, in less than 10 years smart autonomy will be common technology . Drones will be true flying robots (rather than remotely piloted aircraft), and so many of the other seemingly impressive things we are doing now will be mundane, and perhaps quaint vestiges of the past.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to first time pilots?

“If you think the thing you’re about to do is impressive because it might be illegal, it’s not impressive.”


Law and Public Policy, Presentations, Keynote Speeches & Expert Appearances, Privacy, Publications, Articles, White Papers, Surveillance

Surveillance And the City To Be Presented At University of Denver Sturm College Of Law

CitySurveillanceMcNealI will be presenting my paper “Surveillance and the City” at the 3rd Annual Local Government Law Works-In-Progress Workshop at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law.

Here is the paper abstract:

Sophisticated surveillance equipment is finding its way to local police departments. From drones, to automated license plate readers, to surplus military equipment, police departments have been acquiring powerful technology, oftentimes without the direct oversight of the elected representatives who are supposed to oversee them. Perhaps more problematic, that equipment is collecting massive amounts of data, and it is unclear whether state and local governments have the capacity or desire to manage vast stores of information in a way that both protects privacy and is publicly accountable.What should cities do? I will argue that hoping for reform through a court centric, warrant based approach is unworkable and counterproductive. Instead, governments should adopt a variety of transparency, accountability, and oversight centered methods of reform. Specifically, they should create duration based limits on persistent surveillance, enhanced data retention procedures, and implement new transparency and accountability measures. Cities should also recognize that while technology may create privacy harms, if regulated properly, it may be more protective of privacy than non-technologically enhanced surveillance methods. The article also recognizes that despite the potential benefits of new technology, the actual impact of new surveillance technologies may be one that disproportionately burdens minority communities.

The article explores six main questions. Will duration-based surveillance legislation that limits the aggregate amount of time the government may surveil a specific individual be more protective of rights than warrant based surveillance rules? How might data retention procedures (that require heightened levels of suspicion and increased procedural protections for accessing stored data) serve to protect privacy? What transparency and accountability measures will best ensure that government agencies are accountable? Will new technology, such as auto-redaction and accountability logs, make automated surveillance more protective of privacy than human surveillance? How can we ensure that new surveillance technologies do not disproportionately target certain communities? Do surveillance technologies require new forms of oversight?



Drones, Law and Public Policy, Presentations, Keynote Speeches & Expert Appearances

Drones and the Future: Innovation, Regulation and Privacy at The University of Michigan

GregMcNealDronesPrivacyMichiganLawThis Thursday I will be speaking at the University of Michigan Law School, the talk is titled “Drones and the Future: Innovation, Regulation and Policy.”  The abstract and flier appear below.



Drones. They are filling the skies and may be delivering your next package.  But what role do privacy and regulation play in the new brave new world?   

Professor Greg McNeal is one of the leading experts on the use, regulation, and policy questions regarding drones in the public and private sectors.  Come hear him speak on the topic. 

Drones and the Future: Innovation, Regulation, and Privacy

Law and Public Policy

Google and Amazon Drones: Regulation vs. Innovation

Greg McNeal Drones StanfordOn February 9th I will be making a presentation at Stanford Law School.  The title of the talk is “Google and Amazon Drones: Regulation vs. Innovation.”  

The event is free and open to the public, so please stop by if you are in the area.

February 9, 2015 12:45pm – 2:00pm
Room 95

Professor Greg McNeal will be speaking about the interplay between regulation of private drones and the steps that private companies are taking to use drones in commerce. Commentary will be provided by Prof. Hank Greely.

Google and Amazon Drones: Regulation vs. Innovation Stanford Greg McNeal