Do we fear for the police state, that may come with overuse of drones? After all, ‘…we are rapidly moving toward a future in which a majority of aircraft will be unmanned.’ (Villasenor 2014, p.235).
Drones… they are possibly without doubt the big bad scary of the surveillance landscape in modern times. Although drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have been in development since the 17th century (Villasenor 2014, p.235). Why is it though that they have become this feared icon of surveillance? Perhaps it is because they can literally be anywhere. From high in the sky armed military drones, to the miniscule.
— ??????? ???????? (@rodewillis) August 21, 2016
Not only that, but the user can be anywhere – certainly true for the larger military drones, and quite possibly – with the current price tags, controlled by anyone. Which in essence is the problem, at least with a fixed camera there is a possibility of knowing where to access the footage if required, but a UAV? Without seeing the user, it is practically impossible.
Sweeping the negatives under the proverbial carpet, UAV’s do have many real world applications:
‘…search and rescue, news reporting, crop spraying, air quality monitoring, after-the-fact crime scene investigation, surveying, disaster response, wildlife tracking, research into the dynamics of violent storms, spotting wildfires, filmmaking, and traffic monitoring.’ (Villasenor 2014, p.236)
Even these as listed by Villasenor are not absolutes and it is worth mentioning that drones can and do go anywhere that a visual inspection is needed and which may be inaccessible by people. In fact, most articles posted about drones will list several pro-uses for drones, which demonstrates that there needs to be an understanding of how this technology can be beneficial. On the ethics of drone uses West and Bowman state:
‘Citizens doubt that the benefits of drones outweigh the risks to privacy; the deterrent effect on illegal behavior claimed by advocates may be less likely than the chilling effect on lawful activity.’ (West and Bowman 2016, p.653-4)
It seems to be a ‘not in my backyard’ scenario. However, in Australia drones are being used and trailed by the police.
Perhaps it is their use in the military that has people afraid of what may happen as they, ‘…are the signature weapon of modern warfare, as more than 90 nations use them for reconnaissance, intelligence collection, and targeting.’ (West and Bowman 2016, p.650). The key word there is ‘targeting’; if I see a drone and feel that it is too close, would I feel targeted?
As drones are a relatively, in public accessibility, new technology the law has taken time to catch up, and for the most part responsibility of use relies solely on the sensibility of users.
calm down, freedom fighter….we're all about entertainment! No ones privacy is harmed in the making of this show.
— Dan Edwards (@ImDanEdwards) July 20, 2016
I agree…there are going to be a few a-holes who try to ruin the fun for all of us. Hopefully they get got.
— Dan Edwards (@ImDanEdwards) July 20, 2016
For example, if a drone flew into your backyard, do I have the right to destroy it? If I did what would the consequences be? Should I have the relative right to privacy in my own backyard?
In a slightly different example, a family is in the park with a drone – I can see the user and I can see the drone, most likely it is recording. Do I care? Not really it is public space, I generally don’t feel the right to privacy.
In both of these scenarios privacy was the key word, a person should have the general right to some privacy and the home is usually paramount. Personally, I think it comes down to just one saying, ‘don’t be a dickhead’; and use UAV’s wisely before the government sweeps in and does it for you. Pocket Bikes anyone?
Villasenor, J 2014, ‘“Drones” and the Future of Domestic Aviation’, Proceedings Of The IEEE, 102, 3, pp. 235-238, Applied Science & Technology Source.
West, J, & Bowman, J 2016, ‘The Domestic Use of Drones: An Ethical Analysis of Surveillance Issues’, Public Administration Review, 76, 4, pp. 649-659, Health Business Elite.
Rob has traveled extensively in Australia and uses his experiences to write compelling stories. He enjoys testing out new technologies that are designed to make life easier. He is married with two children and lives in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.