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.