John Stossel: Drone technology will advance, market forces will refine its use
These fears aren’t groundless. President Bush approved the use of armed drones against suspected terrorists overseas, and President Obama vastly increased their use. Drones have killed thousands of people in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, countries against which we have not declared war.
The next controversy will center on the increasing use of “civilian” drones. Researching a documentary, “Policing America,” I was surprised to learn that I could buy a “personal” drone for only $500. For another $700, my TV staff added a camera to it. These are terrific devices. Vacationers use them to videotape family trips, farmers to check crops, police to search for missing people.
Of course, private drone use can get creepy. A woman in Connecticut recently attacked a drone operator at a beach because she was angry about being spied upon.
America already has peeping-Tom laws. I can look through my neighbor’s window, but I can’t legally get my stepladder and spy over his fence. State courts will work this stuff out.
An aerospace engineer emailed me that he’s created a Drone Shield you can use to spot unwelcome intrusions. That will get trickier as drones become smaller and quieter — I’ve seen video of new ones that resemble hummingbirds. But detection technology will improve as well. That constant feedback and competition is how all technology advances.
If government will just relax its regulatory chokehold, private citizens will find safe ways to deliver food, rescue lost cats and fill the skies with happy new possibilities.
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