Drones raise legal, privacy issues

By: Steve Porter Friday August 7, 2015 0 comments Tags: Steve Porter

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Ah, the wild and wacky world of drones.

Less than five years ago, the concept of a drone – a relatively small, ground-controlled, unmanned aircraft that can be outfitted to do a host of things – was practically unknown outside the military.

Today, drones are regularly popping up in the news and – increasingly -- flying into trouble.

Late last month, a Kentucky man blasted a camera-equipped drone out of the sky with his shotgun after it began hovering over his backyard.

The man reportedly said the drone – which apparently belonged to a neighbor – was hovering over his sunbathing teenage daughter and constituted a clear invasion of the family’s privacy.

Earlier this month, a drone was reported to have flown over the walls of a prison yard in Ohio and dropped contraband, including tobacco, marijuana and heroin into the yard, which promptly resulted in a brawl breaking out among prisoners scooping up the items.

Yes, obviously drones can be a good thing. They have been used to find lost hikers, fight forest fires, check on pipelines and transmission lines, monitor crop and weed growth in agricultural fields, take amazing video for action movies, etc., etc.

But like just about everything, they can also have a dark side when used inappropriately.

The FAA is struggling to come up with regulations for civilian drone use, but they obviously have their work cut out for them.

And one of the biggest issues is privacy (along with safety -- see this recent KUSA story: http://www.9news.com/story/news/2015/08/14/drone-sightings--pace--quadruple--year/31687879/).

Drones can give the person controlling them unprecedented access to places previously off limits.

Think about it: What would you do if a drone appeared over your home and seemed to be taking photos? How do you think you would react?

I’m leaning toward the reaction of the guy in Kentucky, but do we really want to go down that road?

Drones hold tremendous promise in many areas, but – hopefully – common sense, local laws and some tough FAA regulations will keep them from invading our privacy. 

Steve Porter

About the Author: Steve Porter

Steve Porter, editor of InnovatioNews, has more than 20 years of newspaper experience in reporting, editing and managing news organizations. Steve brings a deep knowledge of the Colorado business landscape and award-winning writing and editing skills to the project.