Enforcing laws on drones

At their inception, drones were considered dangerous and violating. Albeit still controversial, today, drones are becoming much more acceptable, even commonplace. What was once front page, headline news, readers can now find a few pages in, buried between articles about the latest start-up and what the Apple disciples are crafting next. Drones are not only for official governmental use anymore, as Bay Area residents may have acknowledged with the occasional drone flying over their cars upon crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. And perhaps this time next year, those frequenters of GrubHub might discover their “sushi a la cart” being delivered by a drone clad in bedazzled adornment, swiftly landing on their doorstep.

As drone technology becomes more of a hot commodity this summer, their will need to be more discussion amongst regulators regarding privacy, safety and fun. Law enforcement is attempting to rush to catch up to create guidelines and parameters for drone use and grappling with how to truly enforce these laws on such a fledgling gadgets. With the prescience of their value, the market jumped into production mode before law makers knew what was happening. However, the problem with drones is not so much creating laws, since some form of regulation – such as the fundamental rule of not flying over 400 feet – has been instilled in most developed countries for years. Rather the issue lies in the difficulty with enforcing such laws, especially on a product where there is little production oversight.

Other laws that the FAA – the Federal Aviation Administration – has implemented pertinent to drone regulation is 1) always fly within a line of sight 2) fly at least 5 miles away from all airports and 3) never fly over people, unless they are involved in the operation. However, the government is now acknowledging that such rules are vague and difficult to implement. On the same token, governmental regulation moves slow and therefore, in the time being, safety responsibility seems to be falling in the hands of the companies themselves.

There is a lot of self-regulating in the drone industry as the government rushes to catch up. The scenario that is taking place with drone regulation at the moment seems to be akin to the privacy concerns that came as a result of the advent of the internet. Although initially there may be misuse, in time, regulation efforts with catch up, attempting to fill in all the cracks and crevasses that left room for vulnerability.

Given that we are in the age of the Internet of Things, with technology having had advanced 10-fold since the inception of the internet, it is much easier to track misconduct and identity to a drone than 30 years ago. The advanced technology we have now demands each drone user to take full responsibility of their actions and use, since it would not be an anonymous accident or a “fly-and-run” , if you will.

Drones operate mainly on the cloud and notify the operator, in real time, where and how it should be navigating. As new forms of drone technology emerges, perhaps the small demographic of those making and flying drones will be micromanaging others to take more responsibility for devices. With increased self-regulation, drone developers might just see more approval from their neighbors for their use in more colloquial settings. Postmates who?