Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Drones: Do Their Capabilities Need Restricting?

Gabbey Albright

Photo retrieved from the Columbia Journalism Review

People have been talking about drones for a while now. How futuristic these small flying decisive sound- literally when they whiz over your head. Additionally, how popular they have become. 2.5 million were sold in 2016 according to the Fortune magazine. But what is their purpose?

Some people choose to buy drones strictly for recreational use. With other technological devices becoming increasingly similar just in different models, the drone is something that has really stood out. It’s an easy thing to put on any birthday or Christmas list and can be a toy for all ages. After all, it is pretty fascinating to be able to see your location from the viewpoint of the clouds. One can choose from many different brands and model types. These models either come equipped with a camera or without one. Usually, the better quality the camera and the more footage it can store- the more expensive the product.

What if drones are used for more than just a toy?

So what about these drones with lenses? Now they are being utilized by people for more than recreational use. Media companies and news organizations have realized that these drones have massive potential. They are capable of capturing some pretty high-quality footage and are much less expensive than a helicopter ride.

This sounds great, right? But what's the glitch? Well, drones are virtually undetectable besides their little buzzing noise their little propellers create and can record practically anything. This can hold an issue for debating what is public and private property- which airspace can be both.

Konstantin Kakaes from the Columbia Journalism Review mentioned that journalist and first responders ran into an ethical dilemma after the Cyclone, palm, went through Vanuatu in the South Pacific in 2015. Since the cyclone ripped off most of the affected areas roofs, the drones were able to see into their homes. The problem arose in deciding what footage was able to be used. Technically, their homes are their private property and that is protected.

Is an Ethical Code needed?

This dilemma had led “many in the humanitarian community (to) adopted a voluntary code of conduct that lays out some guidelines about how to fly drones safely and gather information in a way that respects people’s privacy”.

Although, there is no official code of conduct for the other type of organizations that are filling the airspace with drones. Many media organizations are resisting any sort of regulation.

Their argument here is backed up by the fact that anywhere in public, one can take a picture. If someone is in a public area in the United States they have the full expectation that someone could take a photograph of them. Therefore, any photograph taken in public in the United States may be published without the people in the photograph permission.

This fact prompts drone users to ask why new rules would be created simply because of this new technology at play. Arguably, there were capabilities of retrieving the same footage that drones are getting now, it was just much more costly so it was much rarer. Now, people can virtually be recorded at any given time someone wants to fly a drone over them.

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