The mention of a drone scares a good number of people today. Some think of the massive military unmanned aircraft used to launch missiles. Others envision a world where there is always a drone watching every time you turn around. The truth is much different. Here are some arguments about whether drones should be so easily accessible and whether laws are needed to regulate them.
Privacy and Crime
A large concern for many people is that a drone can potentially be used to invade privacy and commit crimes. This is a widespread fear although drones have never been used in that way to date. The fear is that someone could get a small drone and secretly record people in a house or stalk someone. A drone could potentially be weaponized and used to commit violent crimes or robberies. These are arguments for strict drone laws.
Drones are machines and are vulnerable to technical problems. A moderately sized unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, could do significant damage or cause injuries if it suddenly fell out of the sky and plowed into a crowd. Technical problems include the operator losing control, the drone flying out of range or onboard electronics malfunctioning. There is now also the threat that hackers could take control of a drone.
Interference with Aircraft and Law Enforcement
A final concern for those who want strict laws is that a UAV could interfere with other aircraft or law enforcement. These incidents are already occurring around the world. A civilian drone could actually lead to a midair accident if there are hundreds of them in random spots at all times of the day.
Individual Freedoms and Innovation
Arguments against harsh drone laws usually point towards innovation and individual freedoms. People should be able to buy the drones for sale today without problems or restrictions. Similarly, putting crippling restrictions on the purchase and use of a drone can stifle technological innovation. These are valid arguments considering the range of dangerous technologies that people already have access to today.
Another argument against crushing laws is that a UAV has societal benefits. A drone is environmentally friendly. It could potentially eliminate the need for many small delivery cars on the streets. A drone could help first responders or bring medications to elderly people with mobility problems. It can lower the cost of doing business. These potential benefits will be lost if drones are banned from the public sector.
Creating Drone Laws
There is little doubt that some laws regarding drones are needed. They need to be kept out of reserved airspace and away from law enforcement. Using them to commit crimes or invade privacy must be addressed. The legal liability issues if a drone does cause harm need to be worked out. The problem is that the laws cannot be too draconian. Citizens should be allowed to own a drone. A better approach might be to regulate manufacturing to ensure a civilian drone cannot be weaponized or used in crimes.