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Privacy invasion, injuries, and lawsuits – are drones worth it?

Drone technology is becoming more mainstream, and after the holidays we can expect to see a lot more drones in the sky. But is it all positive?

aerial drones

The trouble with drones

One need only look upward to discern the hobby of the year. Drones are everywhere—but is that as good a thing as we initially thought?

As with any flash fad, the current drone craze has achieved mixed results. Over a hundred thousand new high-paying jobs and opportunities that cater to those with a talent for piloting and filming have popped up across the United States, and quite a few industries (i.e., agriculture) have made extensive use of drones’ abilities to monitor huge amounts of ground and provide real time updates.


When a drone is too close for comfort

Personal UAVs, it seems, are saving people time and money—and they’re creating a valuable niche for what is rapidly becoming a dedicated consumer base. With this accompanying prevalence, however, comes a few drawbacks, namely invasion of privacy.

One of the biggest deciding factors in the FAA’s decision to make drone registration mandatory was the number of incidents in which drone pilots disrupted people’s privacy or endangered their wellbeing; between crashes near the White House and countless reports of unwanted hovering over private property, drones basically wrote their own tickets to regulation. In the last week, drone pilots were arrested for violating airspace over the Vatican, and before that, a drone fell out of the ski, inches away from a world-class ski racer on the slopes.

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“No way to identify who is piloting a drone”

Benn Rosales, CEO and Founder at The American Genius, has a negative drone story of his own. “Before drones were mainstream, we were hosting a rooftop mixer with thousands of tech and startup folks, and a drone casually flew up to the event and weaved in and out for a period of time. At first, we all thought ‘ooh, cool,’ then hundreds of people started asking, ‘who is that?’”

After a while, people began to feel violated. “There is no way to identify who is piloting a drone, what their motivations are, or what’s on board [cameras, weapons, and so forth],” Rosales continues. “…I can tell you that, even as a superfan of technology, I felt invaded that night, and others agreed.”

The future of drone law

Rosales’ concerns are perfectly valid, and they raise some interesting questions. What kind of regulation might we see in the future regarding payloads—even cameras? How strict will rights to film become?

Other examples of documented drone conflict included cases of harassment, the unauthorized filming of a man having sex with an alleged prostitute, and even an incident where a property owner shot a drone out of the sky, claiming invasion of privacy. How might these cases be validated and handled in a court of law in the future?

That future lies in the hands of today’s pilots. As a drone owner, you have a responsibility to respect others and their privacy. That means researching your route and flying grounds extensively to prevent accidental trespassing, monitoring your flight path regularly, and anticipating emergencies quickly and effectively. Don’t give yourself an excuse to land on someone else’s turf, and don’t make excuses for your own carelessness.

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Better yet, don’t be careless.


Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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  1. Pingback: Dedrone just raised $15M to protect people from drones' spyin' eyes - The American Genius

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