Drones: Are They Helpful in Reporting the News or an Invasion of Privacy

Drones can be very useful to individuals and our country, like take photo and video for real estate, surveying crops, and capturing crimes.  The only question is: Where’s the line between surveilling to be useful and invading privacy?  They’re becoming more available for everyone to use so everyone can spy on everyone.  The military can use them to help combat terrorists and enemies.  The news and media are also starting to use them for the purpose of finding out information that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. They’re also being used by the police to look for missing people, and help keep crimes from happening, but there’s a line between invading people’s privacy and surveilling a situation.

Drones are becoming more commercial. People are concerned whether or not it’s invading their personal privacy. Many people against the use of drones say that it’s a violation of the fourth amendment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is concerned about the potential of drones taking away our personal privacy, which we all care so much about. “There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom.”

Drones are very useful in the military sense, including surveillance of our borders, in order to keep us safe.  Many are very small and very quiet so it’s easy for them to keep tabs on what is below, without anyone noticing or being a large distraction. They can also survey the land above in areas such as a forest that are difficult to search on land. In a time of war, this could be useful to help find enemies that would otherwise be hidden by the trees from above.  They can give immediate feedback and report about where an enemy is, and keep them from advancing or causing any more harm.  Chad Copeland, who’s a National Geographic contributor and a pioneer in the use of drones, said that drones aren’t as intrusive as a man-powered aircraft, and less dangerous if they were to crash.  As long as they warn people that it’s possible that they may be used then they have a right to use them.

Sotomayor said, “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orweillian one, too.” These drones could be just as much surveillance as the Thought Police in Orwell’s book.  Just like the secret spies that were all around in 1984, there could be drones flying through the air collecting video surveillance of you all the time. “’The thought of government drones buzzing overhead and constantly monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens runs contrary to what it means to live in a free society,’ Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said at a Judiciary Committee hearing on whether legislation on drones was needed to protect civil liberties.” This is a very valid point for those that don’t like drones.  They can see things that others don’t want them to see.  A person could have something hidden, but it could be reported very easily for someone with a drone.

Even though drones can seem very invasive to our personal privacy, they can also be very useful and help our society report the news and gather information.   They can help keep crimes from happening, find missing persons, and fight fires. They are also useful in “alerting officers about accidents and crimes and provide video of the incidents.”  They can get in really close to a celebrities window to see inside.  They can get very close on a report of a plane accident.  They could even get close enough to see a dead body.  They could end up finding something secret that could get them in trouble.  All of these things sound almost like a good thing.  The line is very thin on where it is finding out information, and going too far and invading privacy.  It can be really wonderful, but easily become very bad very quickly.

There should be a difference between public and private places.  No one should be able to use drones on private property without consent or a warrant.  A person or people could use their own drown as a way to survey their own grounds.  It would give the News information very quickly, and could get in areas that normal cameras couldn’t.  Anything on public property should be open to have a drone on it at anytime.  There may be a few exceptions, like if a crime were to happen they couldn’t allow a drone in a certain radius distance.  Besides that, public should be public for drones too.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a ban on drones for commercial purposes at the moment. They are deciding on the rules and regulations for these types of uses this coming fall. The FAA has a lot to take into consideration and many things to watch for before they release their regulations this fall.  In California, law enforcement officers that use drones are required to get a warrant, according to Bill AB 1327. There are exceptions to this rule for emergency situations, search and rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. California will be the 14th state in regulating law enforcement drone use if they sign this bill.  A warrant is necessary because it will keep people from snooping without another person knowing and for the wrong reasons.

Drones can be very useful in reporting news if these guidelines are followed.  It’s not an invasion of privacy if these strict rules stated above are followed.  Anything on public property should be allowed because it can find news faster, find it at a new/different/better angle, look for something much faster than by foot, give a lot of detail, live stream, and be given to a news agency by anyone with a drone.

15 thoughts on “Drones: Are They Helpful in Reporting the News or an Invasion of Privacy

  1. This was a really interesting blog post! I agree with you, that the government should be able to use drones under certain circumstances. Our society could very well turn into a dystopia similar to the two aforementioned, so I think that it is essential that we as citizens become aware of the plans and purposes of the drones. I think that it would prevent motives that are corrupt from being fulfilled and that it would also let people keep certain aspects of their lives private.

  2. I liked this blog post a lot. Drones are an interesting concept, and my personal opinion is that they should be used in the same way video camera’s are, with the same rights and restrictions, and maybe a little more freedom such as emergencies and search and rescue. Also, they could be really useful to watch public areas like parks or commercial areas, but then how do you keep them from peeking into people’s backyards and houses? Drones can be very useful, but they could also be very harmful to privacy. It all comes down to how much we trust the government (and individuals, if they change the law) with that much power.

  3. I really enjoyed this blog post. Good job! I agree that, to a certain extent, drones are okay for the government to use. They can be very beneficial when the government uses them but the commercial use for them isn’t helping our society. I really hope they find a way to make them more beneficial. I also believe that they can be harmful to privacy. For citizens to be able to use them as personal surveillance doesn’t seem okay with me.

  4. Great job on your blog post! It was definitely interesting to read. I do believe that government should use drones for certain circumstances, in ways that protect the people. But I also think that it should not be used for commercial purposes and that it is most definitely an invasion of privacy. Drones can be used for good and bad, that is why we need to know why and what they are be specifically used for.

  5. I am fine with private citizens and governments using drones to do what ever they want, as long as we can acquire hunting licences to shoot them down whenever one flies over our property. That will directly discourage the use of drones, since no one wants to lose a big chunk of money from a trigger-happy hillbilly.

    The problem is that a drone is on your property, and drones are robots that are being controlled by people on some level. So would the presence of a drone technically be an extension of a person, and laws regarding people on property would extend to drones as well? I assume there hasn’t been a court ruling specifically regarding that yet.

    But I do want a drone hunting license. I want mount the head of a Predator drone next to the big moose in a trophy room.

  6. In my opinion, I think that the use of drones can/will be very useful, but it depends on what they are being used for. If we, as citizens, know what the drones are being used for and where they are being used, then that could be beneficially and would not be harmful. But if they are interfering with someone’s personal life or information in a way that is not helpful to the majority of citizens, that should not be allowed. If they are on public land and used as things such as video cameras, I think that is okay, but once they start being used on private property then that is crossing the line (maybe literally…)

  7. Interesting post! Personally, I find the use of drones in our air space extremely invasive. I understand how they may be useful in situations like looking for a person who got lost in a forest, or perhaps a boat that got stranded in the middle of the ocean…those circumstances I might consider appropriate, but when it comes to drones flying around our cities (whether they be government or commercially owned,) it is no longer okay. We are surveilled in so many ways on a daily basis already, and the use of flying high quality recording devices is completely unnecessary and frankly, a little sinister.

  8. I really enjoyed that your blog post points out a lot of the important considerations we should make when deciding on both government and private use of drones. I think that Drones can be extremely useful in reporting news. This is particularly true for situations where it is dangerous to get close such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. I believe that drones could benefit the media (and in turn, the public) by allowing us to get a visualization of what is actually going on in a way we have not had before except by way of expensive and loud helicopters. Yes, they are invasive and yes, there will be controversy. We must have regulation in place to curb abuse and we must remain vigilant. Despite that, we shouldn’t ban this exciting new technology outright and we definitely shouldn’t exclusive use to government.

  9. I agree with the fact that drones should be used for certain circumstances, and if they should be abused then they shouldn’t be allowed. Also citizens should be aware if there are drones and also what they are specifically doing, and about the information and where it will be stored and seen and how long they are kept.

  10. I think drones could really go either way in being good or harmful to someones life. I think it really just depends on how the person operating the drone uses the information that is collected but there should be a set of rules letting people keep their privacy. letting the news media use drones would be useful so they could save money by using drones over helicopters but I’m really skeptical on letting paparazzi and private people use drones.

  11. I think that drones shouldn’t be allowed for commercial use at all. There are already more than enough ways to survey someone with out the cost and the effort of using a drone. Yes they are very useful to the military, but for news media and personal use they are just unnecessary.

  12. I feel that is it highly appropriate to use drones for commercial and police reasons. I don’t like how you will most likely see a lot of low altitude drones flying. But if it is ruled in court that it will help our society and environment in more positive ways than not, then I can adapt. Numerous trial runs should be done before it is open to anybody who wants to buy a drone for their own use. I feel like it is a high risk issue for the public to be able to use drones. What if a citizen would attached a makeshift bomb to a drone and fly it into a federal building? In my opinion, our society is just not ready for this technology yet.

  13. Interesting blog post, good job.I agree that drones can be invasive of privacy when they are used for commercial purposes but I don’t necessarily think that it means that they shouldn’t be used at all. Drones have been very effective for many purposes and I think they could be beneficial for commercial purposes if used properly. As with all privacy issues, it depends on what you consider “private” space. Overall, I don’t think it would be harmful for drones to be used.

  14. This blog post was great and really interesting. The fact that drones have become so much of a tool to the media and police makes one feel like we really are living now within the world of 1984 where we now have constant surveillance, and our freedom and space being take away from us. We literally now have to watch our every move when surveillance of all sorts are breathing down our necks. The only reasons I agree to for usage of drones is military use purposes and that when a person goes missing, etc. This is such a touchy subject because there is much good with the usage of drones but ounce people start abusing that good and twisting it for their own benefits than drones just become an annoying eye watching us.

  15. Somewhat Less Secret Spy Guy

    I think ultimately, drones will be a good thing. They can be very fun recreationally, and they have a immeasurable number of ways to do good, awesome things. I think commercial use of drones should be closely monitored and controlled, but individual use should be more up to the user.

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