Hot holiday gift or Big Brother issue? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Hot holiday gift or Big Brother issue?

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CORDOVA, Tenn. (FOX13) -

One of the hottest gifts for gadget junkies spins,  swoops, and sends hi-def video back to your smartphone or tablet.

And that's just the beginning.

Drones have been in the news a lot this year. They are unmanned aircraft that can be used for surveillance or security work, often by the government.

The newest drone is for home use. It's a hi-tech gadget that can fly up to 16 stories high in a radius of about 165 feet with two onboard cameras. It's virtually flying off the shelves this holiday season.

"kids are begging for it," said Brian Lyles. "Parents are saying this will be pretty cool idea for you and me."

The folks from Verizon took FOX13 News out to the park for a test flight. It comes complete with streaming video from  two high definition cameras.

"Wow! There are a lot of kids that would love that thing," explained Sherry Smith.

Your  smartphone or tablet is your remote for the portable drone. The video is recorded directly onto your tablet or a flash drive.

"This takes excitement to a new level," Lyles said. "You can upload to Facebook, to Twitter, to YouTube. Share it with all your friends."

Best of all is the price. At less than $300 this is the first drone for  home use ever offered by Verizon.

It's like a hovercraft with cameras.

It made the geese duck and run at Shelby Farms Park during the test.

"It looks like something the military created, doesn't it?," Smith said.

The U.S. military does use drones and has for years. Earlier this year the Shelby County Sheriff's Office created a stir when it asked the county commission for the okay to use drones undercover and search  missions.

County commissioners, including constitutional law professor Steve Mulroy, raised a ruckus, citing fears of abuse.

But when FOX13 News showed Commissioner Mulroy this civilian drone, it seemed far less sinister.

"I'm sold," he said. "It's all I can do to resist the temptation to go out and get one of these things for myself."

It is fascinating to watch.

Smith and her friend were mesmerized watching the drone spin and float above them at the park, until they found out that FOX13 News was watching them.

"To me the privacy issue is bigger than the entertainment issue," Smith said. "Most people don't know it has a camera on it."

"It's amazing how many ways people can invade your privacy these days," added Diane Daughtery.

That's the potential problem. You can get into real trouble if you invade someone's privacy with this thing. You can post video online almost instantly.

"If footage that is posted is footage anyone can see walking down the street, no problem," Commissioner Mulroy said. "But if you post footage that is supposed to be private, if drone scaled the wall, looked through hedges, and looked at something no one can see, that's an invasion of privacy and victim could probably sue you in court."

Parents can be sued if your child innocently, or otherwise, puts a private video online.

If you are thinking about piloting your own drone, just know there are some boundaries you should not cross.

"I think the key here is we need to be aware of anything that hovers," Smith said. "He was hovering."

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