THE KEYBOARD COMMANDO – UAVs are practical, but restrictions are also required

Mac Olsen,
Smoky River Express

There’s no doubt about it – unmanned aerial vehicles are popular and they are here to stay.
However, this is where I will call for ‘nanny state’ intervention, as there are substantial privacy issues and rights at stake with UAVs.
First, let’s look at some practical benefits of UAVs. Smoky River Fire Chief Marcel Maure discussed his proposal to purchase a UAV during the M.D. council meeting on Feb. 10.
He highlighted the forward looking infrared looking (FLIR) technology of a particular model, which would help firefighters determine how to combat a fire and reduce the risk to their lives.
The model he has in mind is called a Zenmuse XT with a thermal camera and gimbal. There is a video on where the company touts its capabilities.
Council agreed to his request to purchase the UAV, which will cost $10,570.
Based on seeing that video, the Zenmuse XT looks like it can do the job. I think council made the right decision.
During the same meeting, Clem Bourgeois, the manager of the Little Smoky Ski Hill, showed video clips that an employee made with their UAV. It flew high over the ski runs and snowtube runs.
The videos have the look and feel of a 3-D movie because of that aerial viewpoint. The videos are posted on the Little Smoky Ski Hill’s Facebook page.
Here, too, the UAV is a great tool to promote a recreational facility, and I also see its use for tourism promotion.
In essence, having UAVs as additional resources for lifesaving situations and commerce makes sense. But from here it gets murky and this is where the ‘nanny state’ has a role.
The biggest concern I have with UAVs, especially in the hands of ordinary civilians and consumers, is privacy. These mechanical devices, if used improperly, will allow you to invade somebody’s else’s property and spy on you.
Papparazzi and voyeurs would be the most notorious for using UAVs if they’re allowed to. Who wants their every movement and action posted on social media by these jackals?
Worse, think of the men, women and children who are under threat from another party and they have to stay in seclusion to protect themselves. Suddenly, the threatening party can find them by spying on where they suspect they are located. And, if confirmed, they can then carry out threatening actions.
Besides the U.S. military’s well-known use of UAVs for targetted assassinations, there is also a law enforcement application.
Police could use them to gather information about suspected criminal activities, or help deal with a hostage situation. But they, too, must be restricted in using UAVs in order to protect a person’s privacy and ensure that they receive fair judiciary proceedings.
Laws must be put in place so that a judge can grant or deny the use of a UAV in investigations of suspected criminal activity.
Whether we like it or not, UAVs are here to stay. It’s how we use them that has to be clearly defined.

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