The obvious risks [crashing into things, mind you] have not deterred the civilian demand for pilotless planes. Tornado researchers want to send them into storms to gather data. Energy companies want to use them to monitor pipelines. State police hope to send them up to capture images of speeding cars' license plates. Local police envision using them to track fleeing suspects.Google Earth shows how well satellites already demonstrate the clarity at which anyone can see the exact location of a building, such as a house. It sounds like these drones would get an even closer look - to the point of reading license plates.
I'm sure that these drones would be useful in some applications, but is that worth the potential of someone becoming a "peeping Tom" on someone. There would be no privacy, even in your fenced in backyard. I'm sure there would be laws that attempt to prevent that, but they would have no muscle on the front side of the crime, even if the recordings are monitored.
Wire tapping my phone because I'm a suspected terrorist is one thing; any foul play has to be a very proactive act by placing the wire tap in the telephone (or however they do it these days). Spying on me is quite another; foul play would be as simple as "mistakenly" pointing the camera on the drone in the "wrong place" as you scan for the right object - say a theif on the run.
There are privacy issues that we are having to forfeit due to the new dangers this terror filled world presents - shoes off at airport security for instance. But, risking my privacy for weather reporting or license plate reading? I don't think the cost/risk analysis is worth it. It makes the red light cameras already in use a miniscule issue, when it comes to privacy.
Maybe that's the point. Reach further and further into our personal lives so that the formerly taboo actions seem like no big deal. Whether it's the point or not, it is a result.