In recent weeks, the UK government has launched proposals that require all drone owners and users, to undergo specific training and obtain licences before being permitted to operate their devices. Such tighter regulations come as the backlash over mounting concerns, that if the proliferating devices remain uncontrolled, there could be an increased risk to public safety. The potential for drones to fly into the flight paths of commercial aircrafts, is perceived as one of the greater risks. I for one am completely supportive of the new measures and will certainly be looking forwards to their implementation; considering from the beginning I was very much dubious of the devices entering the consumer market at all. Don’t get me wrong, in commercial settings such as agriculture and construction or for the public sector, drones provide an abundant opportunity to save on cost, labour and most importantly, human lives. Nonetheless, when made freely available to all, it’s far too easy for their darker potential to be exploited.
I’m sure we’ve all seen it by now; grainy footage of miniature drones with parcels, hovering over barbed wire and zipping towards the desperate, clambering hands of prisoners. While to human beings, prison walls are behemoths designed to keep them firmly out, to drones they are mere hurdles to fly over and around. Simply put, drones have opened prisons to a whole new tidal wave of smuggled contraband. The nefarious activities don’t stop there; with terrorism increasing on European soil, drones offer up attackers with more devastating ways to commit atrocities and harm human life. Of course, even before consumer level drones existed, suicide bombers were targeting civilians and in truth, there hasn’t been a drone style attack – yet, the devices still afford jihadists the increased ability to take even more lives and evade capture while doing so. On the other side of the spectrum, let’s not forget how drones can be used to invade people’s privacy. Celebrities and other high profile figures are often caught up in the relentless feeding frenzy of paparazzi; when drones are then added to the mix, the problem will only be exasperated as drones unlike humans, won’t be deterred by iron gates or barely bodyguards. Privacy will soon become a word that ceases to have meaning.
Undoubtedly most drone users are responsible and rule abiding citizens, and there are even those who rely on them to earn a living. At the same time, the drone world is currently like the wild west; untamed and dangerous, which is why I welcome the government introducing at least some regulation, and I hope IT bringing in much-needed law and order. But, I don’t think they go far enough; there should be further regulation ensuring only individuals whose livelihood depend directly on drones and possess clean police records, can be permitted to own and operate them. Strict, yes. And sure, holistically speaking drones can do so many great things; delivering medicine to the ill, helping emerging filmmakers, assisting on search and rescue missions, Etc. however, placed into unvetted, devious hands, their vast potential can be used greatly to harm society.