Ad Company Reportedly Utilizing Drones Across SFV As Part Of Experiment

STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — An advertising company has been utilizing drones experimentally to monitor cellular and Wi-Fi signals across the San Fernando Valley, according to a new report.

As CBS2’s Erica Nochlin reports, the small drones are apparently buzzing around the Valley and have reportedly been monitoring signals all month long to pinpoint the location of mobile devices and their owners, according to VentureBeat.

“The idea that there are drones flying around, that’s kinda terrifying,” said one resident in reacting to this report. “Invasion. Invasion of privacy.”

According to Nochlin, AdNear is the marketing company that’s responsible and says it’s only an experiment for now, but one day those drones could be used to send out location-based ads faster.

The company says users remain anonymous and said in a statement: “We do not push any messages but show in-app ads that are highly relevant to the user’s location and/or profile. This in-turn is useful to the user as they get meaningful, engaging ads.”

“Is that where it’s gonna stop? Are they gonna be watching us next?” one man asked.

Jared Hoffen with Drones Plus said drones are not to blame as they are only transporting existing technology.

“With camera phones and what we have going on, privacy has been out the door for a while,” Hoffen said.

CBS2 Legal Analyst Steve Meister agrees.

“It’s monitored from the ground. It’s monitored from cyberspace. Drones are just monitoring from the air just lower than a satellite,” Meister said.

Whenever drones are utilized for commercial use, the FAA must authorize such use. Nochlin said she found that AdNear has no such authorization. Yet, the company claims, it doesn’t need it as it’s only an experiment and they’re only using marketing purposes overseas.

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