The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Prepare law before drones fly

Congress has passed a bill requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to begin testing the use of unarmed drones in U.S. airspace to determine how safe drones are and how they fit into flight patterns.The question is not if but how well will we be prepared for the logistical and legal problems that will arise when the remote-controlled aircraft are open to public use.

Drones range in size from as large as a private plane to as small as a hummingbird and can be equipped with anything from cameras and microphones to cargo compartments.

Currently, agencies must receive case-by-case permits from the FAA that have limiting restrictions including mandating that the operator maintain visual contact with the drone. These permits are only available to government agencies.

Potential markets could include journalism, agriculture and law enforcement.

Journalists have already used drones to film riots, fires and other news events. Police would use the drones for patrolling and searching for suspects and missing persons, all of which would cut the required manpower to a fraction of the cost of a helicopter or plane. Drones could count cattle and drop pesticides on crops.

Among the immense possibilities for this technology are possibilities for abuse. Privacy concerns about the eye of Big Brother flying in the sky are prevalent.

But many of these fears and future legal headaches can be avoided with some foresight on the part of those controlling the progress.

The time until the September 2015 deadline for public use of drones must be used wisely to tackle not only the logistics but to detail what is lawful use of the information gained and what will be termed invasion of privacy for both law enforcement and private use.

For example, will law enforcement be allowed to use the drones to patrol 24-7, or will they be launched with an expressed purpose and then landed when the objective is completed? Can a person be sued for flying a drone over someone’s property, capturing video and posting it online without consent?

Having guidelines and laws set before the public release of the drones will reduce privacy concerns and legal battles for years to come and make the use of the drones more efficient.

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