A new federal law signed by President Obama forces the FAA to allow UAVs to be used for private and commercial activities. With drones taking over American skies, privacy is becoming a concern. The recent incident where a drone that belonged to animal activists was shot down by a group of pigeon hunters prompts a new wave of questions. How much can these drones capture about the lives below them? Does one “own” the airspace above their land? If so, till what altitude does the ownership extend to? Under traditional property law, the airspace above one’s property belong to them until “infinity”, is that going to change? What would you do when you wake up in the morning and lounge by the pool reading a newspaper and suddenly see a drone hovering above your house? Call the FAA, the police or takeout your shotgun?
While Obama’s move could be a boon for drone manufacturers and businesses, there should be something more done to protect the privacy of the people. Mid-air collisions and property damage is also an issue. How much surveillance are people going to accept? It is one thing having the government run the surveillance but another when the kid next door is “drone-ing” around the neighborhood voyeuring people.
Being photographed by cell phone cameras in public is different from having a drone flying over your house. The FAA has only issued warnings so far for unauthorized use of drones, no penalties. With laws so “strict” what is to stop the unauthorized use of drones.
The market for drones are currently valued at $5.9 Billion in the U.S. alone and is expected to double in another 10 years. I love aviation and pretty much anything that flies in the sky no matter how ugly it looks. I am also a big fan of drones. However, to protect this industry in the long-term, the use of drones need to be monitored more closely and stricter amendments need to follow so people don’t get hurt. A few bad apples misusing the drones, or a few drones crashing into cars or people killing/hurting them will put all this lobbying done by drone manufacturers to waste once the government faces public/voter pressure. Maybe we will have to wait till a drone ends up flying over some restricted areas for stricter laws to come up. Until then, prepare to have your privacy rights violated.
The FAA should have licensed people operating the drones and even do a background check on the operators because drones can be used for malice if needed. Drones should have Homeland Security worried by now making targets more vulnerable.
Can’t wait for a TV show where private investigators follow around cheating spouses on drones.
However, this is the worst it can get.