Government must regulate drones moving forward

April 3, 2013 — by Nick Chow
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) taking pictures of a terrorist’s face while flying 20,000 feet above the surface of the Earth is no longer something that only appears in animated television shows. The American military has been using UAVs, or drones, for precision aerial strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other terrorist strongholds since 2001; more recently, drones have entered the domestic realm.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) taking pictures of a terrorist’s face while flying 20,000 feet above the surface of the Earth is no longer something that only appears in animated television shows. The American military has been using UAVs, or drones, for precision aerial strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other terrorist strongholds since 2001; more recently, drones have entered the domestic realm.
Civilian drones are currently forming a burgeoning sector of the aviation market with functions ranging from scientific research in areas where humans cannot go to commercial aerial surveillance, but do we really want drones flying over our skies?
In an episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, MIT professor Mary Cummings said drones are becoming so easy to make that any ordinary citizen can create one. All that differentiates a civilian drone and a military drone is the actual hellfire missile. Commercial and civilian drones are already being sold at a local electronics store such as Fry’s or Best Buy, and it will not be long before there is even more controversy over these aerial vehicles.
As time progresses, drones and other unmanned vehicles will become ubiquitous. It is an inevitable reality that has limitless positive capabilities in the military with precision strikes, in fire departments with search and rescue, in exploration of places on Earth where humans cannot venture and in our own lives with security of our homes.
But even though drones have a multitude of positive benefits, we need to have laws that protect people from potential misuse of drones. It will only take one man with a twisted mind to mount a weapon on a drone, and wreak havoc on the local community. The potential danger does not even have to be one related to violence; cameras attached to drones could easily become a breach of privacy.
Laws and, unfortunately, regulatory bureaucracy must keep up with this nascent civilian technology. In contrast with gun ownership, a different stance needs to be taken in regards to drone ownership.
Background checks will not cut it. It is going to be impossible to prevent people who are committed to obtaining a drone from getting a drone. Who’s to say that a mentally unstable individual wouldn’t be able to get a drone from his uncle, mount a weapon on the drone and cause harm?
Instead, the construction of commercial drones should be regulated. Drones available to the public should be built so that they are not powerful enough to carry heavy objects, such as cameras or guns. These drones need to be federally regulated so as to ensure that regular citizens do not have access to such potentially dangerous robots.
Policy makers need to learn from their mistakes with letting gun availability and accessibility get out of hand and will control the inevitable spread of drones in civilian life.