1. Well, many uses of so called “drones” are inevitable, but it’s kind of misleading to call them all drones. Is that what you’d call a styrofoam plate with two little motors and a tiny camera? That’s the real threat, when surveillance gets really cheap. I have seen a fairly capable, semi autonomous drone the size and shape (more or less) of a cafeteria tray. So we’re getting there.

    IMHO, there IS a way to deal with this stuff, and it’s not high tech. Whether we can do it is another story. We have to readjust the system so that our civil rights are important, and require a search warrant for the use of UAV’s in surveillance of anyone who is not on the other side in a war. Basically, follow the Bill of Rights, and maybe throw in something emphasizing privacy, though one could easily argue that invading privacy is unreasonable search.

    A nice advantage of this approach is that it also helps deal with other kinds of threats to our privacy, such as computer related ones.

    1. No doubt, there are hundreds if not thousands of positive and productive uses for this technology. However, as with any other new technology there is also the potential for detrimental and harmful use. It certainly begs the question as to whether adequate guidelines and controls have been developed to reasonable assure that harmful use of this technology will be curtailed.

      I believe the use of the term ‘drone’ is a misnomer. It paints a broad spectrum of unmanned aerial platforms with the same brush and presents a somewhat ominous and foreboding connotation of the technology. Nevertheless, the media has latched onto this term because it creates sensationalism and sells the story, so unfortunately we’re probably stuck with it.

      Rich Hanson
      AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

  2. Both air space and the internet are public areas which carry a low expectation of privacy. Drones simply make it easier for “the powers that be” to use and misuse this low expectation. 40 years ago the “no-knock warrant” was considered by many to be unconstitutional and invasive, with the law enforcement folks saying it was necessary to stop druggies from flushing evidence. Now it is used everywhere and against almost everyone. Why?, because it’s easier. People take the path of least resistance. Drones will be used domestically, and they will also be misused in the same venue. Stopping anyone from using this technology is a step down the path toward having our planes declared “drones” and banned. Sorry LR, but I think our expectations of privacy are over optimistic. Also please define your method of “readjusting” the system. Bloody revolution? Right-wing,smaller government? Readjusting a complex system comes at a high cost.

  3. From USA TODAY

    In the column “Domestic use of drones? Bad idea,” Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel advanced misperceptions about the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the national airspace.

    Despite their claims to the contrary, UAS serve the public good by saving time, saving money and, most important, saving lives. Meanwhile, unmanned aircraft used in the national airspace are operated by trained civilian professionals, first-responders or members of local law enforcement agencies.

    The limited use of UAS has already offered a glimpse into their value. Firefighters use them to battle wildfires. Search and rescue teams use them to locate missing children. Researchers use them to study natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes. And law enforcement agencies use them to secure our borders and promote public safety. Opening the national airspace to this technology further also means the creation of thousands of jobs, boosting state and local economies.

    The ways in which UAS can benefit our safety, our society and our economy are endless. That is why we’ve already opened a dialogue with privacy advocates, the pilot community, the Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders. The more we work together to ensure a safe and responsible integration, the faster we can unlock the incredible potential of this technology.

    Michael Toscano, president; Association for Unmanned Vehicle; Systems International; Arlington, Va.

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