Drones: Coming Soon to Your Backyard

The Economist’s article, “Unblinking eyes in the sky,” examines the growing use of robotic drones and the ramifications of their use. The use of air drones in various military campaigns in the middle east has become commonplace and each year their capabilities appear to grow exponentially. However, much of the public is unaware about the proliferation of drones used domestically by government agencies, hobbyists, and corporations.  I was a bit surprised to learn that technology and cost are not hindering wide spread use of drones, rather it is legal regulations imposed by the FAA that is thwarting their growth in the United States.

Both the European Commission and the United States Congress are working to modify current legislation in order to allow greater use of drones by civilians. However, the use of drones is causing concern regarding safety and privacy issues that emerge when you have thousands of new image capturing devices floating overhead. The FAA is concerned about the unmanned flying vehicles ability to avoid other aircraft and about cautionary procedures taken if the aircraft loses contact with its ground controller. The American Civil Liberties Union is concerned with the invasion of privacy issues bound to occur when drones roam the skies freely, capturing images and video that erode our sense of privacy.

The article points out that the technological advancements of drones will have many beneficial aspects such as in security and disaster recovery but it also points out that as more drones take to the sky, it will inevitably lead to more lawsuits. I believe that individuals will be most concerned regarding the privacy issues that are bound to escalate. The drones are advancing so quickly that not only will they be small enough to fly over your backyard, but soon they will be small enough as an insect, able to look in your window. I think the threat to privacy by advancing technology is outpacing the legislation that will be needed to curtail its negative repercussions.

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One thought on “Drones: Coming Soon to Your Backyard

  1. These drone articles are interesting. SMU’s Journal of Air Law & Commerce is publishing two articles on the same topic in its next issue. One adresses your point about the FAA’s concerns on drones interfering with traditional aircraft operations. That’s likely more drone reading than you (or anyone) is interested in, but it speaks to your point that this is an emerging issue with lots of interesting consequences.

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