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Flying Paparazzi Drones to Track Celebrities From Above

parrot ar droneToday's high-profile celebrities may have perfected the art of avoiding paparazzi on the streets of Beverly Hills, but they might want to turn their attention skyward, as well. That's because celebrity photo agency Splash News is developing a camera-equipped drone aircraft to track the rich and famous from above. "It would strike fear in the hearts of every celebrity having a birthday party," Splash chief executive Gary Morgan tells the Wall Street Journal. "Call it C3paparazzo."

Fortunately for Hollywood luminaries, FAA regulations currently prohibit private companies from flying drones domestically. But there is a loophole; the federal agency hasn't yet taken a hard stance on recreational drones, which can be purchased online, or built at home with materials available on the Web. The FAA "recommends" that these drones remain at an elevation below 400 feet, and that they stay away from airports and other commercial craft, but it has yet to implement more stringent regulations. This gray area could provide an easy way for lawyers to justify the use of amateur drones to track celebrities, or even cheating husbands.

It's still unclear which route the FAA will take. Concerns from privacy advocates and watchdogs could very well spur tighter restrictions on drone use, but the agency may also hesitate to curtail something that's quickly become a burgeoning private industry. Because software and hardware designs are now widely available online, many amateur aviation enthusiasts have begun developing their own drones, and are collectively advancing the technology. It may be only a matter of time, then, before unmanned airborne paparazzi become a reality -- and before someone like Gary Busey starts investing in surface-to-air missiles.

Tags: aircraft, celebrities, celebrity, drone, faa, Hollywood, paparazzi, photos, SplashNews, tabloid, top