The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 25, 2014

Our View: Drone regulations filled with pitfalls

Why it matters: The public wants protection from government use of drones but to tread softly on private use.


More controversial will be any laws limiting the use of drones by individuals or businesses. Some privacy groups and lawmakers say the government needs to ensure drones aren’t invading privacy. To be sure there will be privacy issues galore as drones are put into widespread use: Private investigators tracking people, drones peering down into yards and onto private property, and activists using them to expose problems, to name just a few.

Some states are looking at serious restrictions. Texas legislators proposed a bill to ban aerial photography from remote vehicles, and privacy groups have petitioned for every drone flight to require FAA approval.

Such laws would be unworkable, overreaching and stifle the huge potential in commercial and private drone use. How, for example, can a law require people to get permission before taking images of private property?

Google Earth has already mapped and made available close-up images of most every square inch of the world via satellite and travelling ground-based cameras. Businesses have for decades flown planes over farms and other property taking photos and selling them.

As lawmakers fashion regulations they should be highly skeptical of imposing restrictions on commercial and private use of drones. There will undoubtedly be gaps to fill in drone legislation in the future, but for now the industry needs to find its potential even though the growth will bring new problems and challenges.



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