A while back, I told you about the growing concern for privacy in connection with domestic drones. We’re used to hearing news stories about the U.S. using these unmanned aircraft to hunt for terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere. But civilian drones are becoming increasingly smaller and more affordable, and a number of people want to make sure that privacy issues are addressed if these drones are going to be used on U.S. soil.
Now that Congress has passed the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act, thousands of unmanned drones are slated to appear in American skies by 2015. Law enforcement types really like drones. They say they are very helpful when used for surveillance, search-and-rescue operations, and for gathering details on damage caused by natural disasters.
Thankfully, lawmakers in a number of states are proposing a variety of restrictions on their usage in our skies, citing concerns that these vehicles could be used to spy on Americans. On Feb 5, 2013, Virginia lawmakers approved a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by police and government agencies due to their citizens’ privacy concerns, with exceptions for emergency situations and searches for missing children and seniors.
Other measures include only allowing law enforcement use of drones with a search warrant, another involves making it illegal for private citizens to use drones to spy on neighbors and yet another would ban the use of drones over private property. Among the other states looking into this subject are California, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas. You can read more about it in an article from Fox News here.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I believe drone technology should be used to keep U.S. citizens safe, not to spy on, scare or entrap people. Because these drones are not yet in widespread use in our skies, this is a good time to make a preemptive strike to ensure that privacy issues are a top priority in any laws about the use of drones.
I would encourage you to let your lawmakers know how you feel about it. And while you’re at it, let me know, too. Do you see domestic drones as a potential privacy threat to U.S. citizens, or do you think they’re not that big of a deal? What restrictions would you put on domestic drones?