How would you feel if you were relaxing, gardening or sunbathing in your back yard and you looked up to see a flying camera watching you? Would you be startled? Would you feel like your privacy is being comprised? I know I would. Unfortunately, there have been instances of drones being piloted to spy.
Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are devices that can be used for leisure, journalism and even military use. There’s no secret they’ve had a presence in the media, quite a controversial one at that. The backlash drones, or UAV’s, received to some that was similar to the reaction the computer received when it was invented. Some people are confused with things they don’t understand fully. Image 1
There are many ethical considerations that deal with both small drones, which the FAA deems anything under 55 pounds, and large drones that are used for warfare and surveillance. The prices of some drones have declined, consequently making them more accessible. I think we should focus on regulation before our sky is covered with small little white flying cameras.
According to The Economist the FAA has began brainstorming ways to regulate the small drones. On February 15th, 2015 the FAA announced its new rules for small drones and simultaneously President Obama called on government agencies to study this issue. The President directly asked the Commerce Department to examine the “privacy implications” of drones that are used by both individuals and corporations.
“The Professional Society of Drone Journalists” shared an article that stated, “small drone rules will give hope for drone Journalism in the United States.” The rules that are proposed by the Society do not require a license instead a certificate will be required after they have taken and passed a test. In order to keep your certification up to date, the test will need to be retaken every 24 months.
Maybe a Code of Ethics should be followed similarly to Journalists. There needs to be a greater sense of regulation and enforcement since the general public has access to these UAV’s. While some want to use them to catch footage of their own home, there are many other questionable uses that people have already began to explore.
An article on How to Geek notes how Mexican Cartels have begun to attempt at moving product over borders with drones. Certain events will ban drones, for instance, the Superbowl XLIX banned drones within 30-miles of the event. It’s unclear as to where this happened but someone who had access to a drone and a handgun decided to put the two together. Business Insider documented the instance and linked to the video that showcases a drone successfully firing four shots without a hand to pull the trigger. The comments on the video were overwhelming. Half claimed they couldn’t decide if it was “bad ass” or “just bad.” This is something that we need to create laws and regulations for before people deem these actions trend-worthy.
The issue of regulating drones was a non-existent one a few years back, as things keep emerging we’ll have to adapt and monitor. It seems like our discernment of ethics is fading and although how you should conduct yourself in terms of drones and what you post online may seem obvious to some of us, it isn’t always that way to everyone. We need to make sure that we’re highlighting the good in products and utilities while minimizing the bad.
Tess Lowth & Bobby Sydnor
Master of Arts in Emerging Media
Loyola University of Maryland