The use of drone in the United States has raised a heated public debate over the past few years. The government officially legalized drone usage in the country in 2013. The federal aviation administration argues that allowing drones for commercial purposes is a noble idea as it will revitalize other industries such as digital camera industries. The FAA also claims that drones pose no harm or danger to other aircraft while airborne (FAA, n.p). With other factors such as infringement of privacy constant, drones are helpful in enabling government agencies and citizens to have an eye on the happenings on the ground without having a physical presence.
Over the years, the market for unarmed drones in the United States has grown. Many individuals are passionate about the actions of drones and their capacity to obtain data in a discreet way. The need for drones has contributed to the rise of several companies that produce drones. Drones are common in America, and any person may own one because of their cheap price. Currently, an ordinary drone costs a lot less than a manned aircraft (Bennet 2). The government has stepped in to control drone use in the country through the FAA. In this respect, the use of drones is secure and Americans should accept it.
There are mixed responses with regards to the usage of American drones. People promoting the use of drones say that unarmed drones are innocuous and do not risk the country’s defence. One of the advantages of drones in the homeland is that they are useful in solving crime (Slag 12). Police also encounter difficult scenarios that could involve a birds-eye view. The drones in their activities are discrete and may also be beneficial for protection devices. For example, in determining the condition in a riot, the police may use drones to recognise the illegal acts and the suspects. In this sense, in order to preserve law and order, drones are necessary. The tracking of movements over the border is a common monitoring function of drones that assist in law and order compliance.
In disaster prone countries, drones are helpful in search and rescue operations. In the shape of storms, typhoons, and wildfires, the world has endured desperate circumstances. Drone technology is helpful in the control of environments beyond the scope of humans. The drones take photographs and videos and send them to the necessary authorities. As such, the authorities will take steps to evacuate individuals under compulsion in the event of a tragedy and even determine the extent of harm sustained. Opponents to drone use in the world contend that equivalent activities should be carried out by manned aircraft. However, Slag asserts that “UAVs are uniquely capable of penetrating areas that may be too dangerous for a piloted craft or individuals on foot” (9). Drones can enter houses and wrecks to look for survivors, which is an impossible mission for manned aircraft.
Despite the benefits of drone technology to the Americans, there are several drawbacks. Americans believe that legalizing drones will have a negative impact on national security. A research done by the University of Texas (n.p) shows that there is a possibility that technology experts can hack the Global Positioning System of a drone and relay to it wrong message. The study implies that hackers can take control of a drone and then use it for unintended purposes. For example, an internal terrorist cell can hack drones and then use them to deliver weapons.
Another setback to drone usage in the country is that the public is becoming paranoid about the fact that the state is watching them. The United States government has a reputation of using drones in surveillance of hostile areas. People expect that the government will use the drones to watch their activities. People deserve privacy as enshrined in the Fourth amendment of the United States constitution. The rights of people are likely to be affected since the primary role of drones is surveillance. The scenario can be proven by the fact that most drones, if not all, are fixed with advanced cameras that record what the drone pilot wants. Drones are associated with spying or surveillance and thus civil organizations cannot trust them over their heads (Slag 16). Commercial drones are not an exception. People who own drones may also try to record information. Recording people and their activities without their consent or a court order is a violation of privacy rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) complains that drone usage in the country is a negative step to civil liberty. The Union argues that domestic drone flights will ultimately violate privacy. The ACLU is categorically concerned about police using drones. Allowing police departments to own and operate drones lowers the public confidence and government commitment in protecting privacy due to an admission by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it had used drones at home in surveillance missions. Police will ultimately survey a person or a community without court orders since the drones are discrete and not easily detected (Finn 2).
The act of legalizing commercial drone usage implies that any person who can afford to buy a drone is at liberty to fly it; so long he or she has a license from the FAA. The situation means that an individual may take the liberty to take videos and pictures from drone camera. This is in itself a violation of privacy. However, the perpetrator may not be aware of the illegality of taking pictures or recording public videos. In this regard, drones have a high chance of being misused. Congress can partner with the FAA to make rules that govern the operations of the drones instead of banning them altogether.
In conclusion, usage of drone at home is a move that will improve national security; thus, every citizen should advocate for drone use by civilians and law enforcement authorities. As noted above, the benefits of usage of drone technology are way higher than the drawbacks. Criticisms on licensure of commercial drone activities arguments base on the issue of privacy. Privacy is guaranteed in the constitution and thus it is the work of the federal government to ensure that drones do not violate personal space. Congress can thus enact laws that limit the information that can be collected by drones, rather than banning usage of drones. Congress should engage the ACLU in designing the privacy rules.
- Bennett, Wells C. “Civilian Drones, Privacy, and the Federal-State Balance.” (2014).
- Federal Aviation Adminstration. “Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” FAA. N.p., Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
- Finn, Peter. “Domestic use of aerial drones by law enforcement likely to prompt privacy debate.” Washington Post 22 (2011).
- Schlag, Chris. “New Privacy Battle: How the Expanding Use of Drones Continues to Erode Our Concept of Privacy and Privacy Rights.” Pitt. J. Tech. L. & Pol’y 13 (2012): i
- University of Texas at Austin. “Cockrell School Researchers Demonstrate First Successful “Spoofing” of UAVs – Cockrell School of Engineering.” Cockrell School of Engineering. N.p., 27 June 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.