Protecting Your Privacy & Property – Example Case of Shooting Down Drones
Today we’re going to be discussing a question of defending your property and your privacy in a specific case of a drone that is flying into your property. The question is, are you allowed to defend your personal space by breaking, damaging, or shooting down the drone? I know shooting is a little bit extreme, but there are cases of people having done that. The question today is, are you allowed to actually damage and break the other person’s drone to protect your privacy and your property?
For this halacha, we are going to be using the notes from the Bais HaVaad Halacha Center. We already have gone into this subject in previous videos, videos # 79 (click to watch) and # 55 (click to watch). Video # 79 was in general about hezek re’iyah, about encroaching into somebody else’s privacy, and also had a different question of whether or not you’re allowed to look into somebody else’s car (which will be discussed in an upcoming video be”H).
The Bais HaVaad say over here that there is a machlokes in the Poskim in regard to the Gemara in Maseches Bava Kama 28a. It speaks about if your ox is being attacked by somebody else’s ox. The Gemara says over there that you shouldn’t damage the other ox; rather, just pull your ox out of the way, and if, by way of you pulling your ox, the other ox gets damaged, then you are not liable for such damage to the attacking ox.
The debate of the Poskim is, what’s going to be in a case where you can’t protect your ox (or your own property) without actively going out and damaging the other ox? That’s the machlokes in the Poskim whether or not you’d be allowed to do it. The Aruch Hashulchan (383) says that you would never be allowed to directly damage another person’s ox, whereas the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Nizkai Mamon 5) says that you would be allowed to if there’s no other option.
So, in our case of a drone coming into somebody else’s property, it’s not so clear what the halacha would be. We’re talking about a case where there is no other recourse. You have no other way of stopping this drone that is videoing or taking you’re your privacy from coming into your property. Of course, it’s asur for that person to do, like we spoke about before in previous videos about Hezek Reiya, encroahing on someone’s privacy (videos 55 and 79). The question is, if you have no other way of stopping the drone in a peaceful way, such as just calling or asking the person to take the drone down and the like, would you be allowed to break the drone otherwise?
That is the question here. Of course, every case has to be dealt with specifically by a qualified halachic Posek in the area, but that’s going to be the machlokes over here, whether or not this machlokes haPoskim is going to apply in this case. Over here by the drones, who do we Pasken like?
There are other cases about protecting yourself as well. The Poskim ask, are you allowed to damage somebody or something else that is coming into and damaging your property? The matter will also affect the outcome of our question about the drones. If somebody who has, for example, a chicken coming into his store and damaging his business. Would you be allowed to put out poison and damage the chicken? This case, calculating all the factors, comes out as an additional factor in calculating the case of the drones.
Additionally, it would also depend on whether the person who is flying into your property is doing it maliciously, if they’re doing it on purpose and they want to go against you. That may be a reason why a person may be able to take more defense and damage the drone coming in. Whereas, if a person is videoing or just for fun flying a drone around and he doesn’t mean to be doing it maliciously, in a bad way, then it may not be so simple to damage the drone.
Again, we’re not Paskening or giving a ruling on this case, because it’s unclear. As well as the additional factors that may change the Psak for each individual case, there is also the fact that the law of the land (Dina DeMalchusa) which could override the halachos over here. And, since it hasn’t been so long that we’ve had drones, I’m not sure if the government has yet given clear guidelines of how a person is allowed to protect themselves. If the government does already give guidelines of how a person could protect their privacy against drones, then that technically could override the halachic boundary over here and a person would be able to defend himself even in a case where halacha would not allow it.
Again, all these cases have to be spoken over with a qualified Posek in order to assess each case and all its specific details in order to come to a final ruling***
***Please note that these halachos are intended to inform and educate the reader/listener in general. For any specific questions which arise, it is recommended to speak over the exact case with a competent halachic authority in order to assess the halacha accordingly as any small change will greatly affect the final halacha. You can send your questions in to us as well by replying via WhatsApp to our halacha Q & A number on the group, sending an email to Ask@MoneyHalacha.com, or via our contact page at MoneyHalacha.com/contact-us
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