I Can't Help It. I have to write about Drones.
The whole idea began with military drones attacking specific targets, spying on people, raising concerns among those who think we might have some privacy left. However, they were military drones flying in foreign lands and not in our backyard. We couldn’t see them flitting about like giant fireflies invading our personal space purported to be about 500 feet over our homes.
The drone problem became more immediate when Amazon announced it would use drones to deliver packages. They are called delivery drones and while more a publicity stunt than reality, I’m sure the day will come when delivery drones are buzzing around delivering pizzas.
Of course, the lawyers among us see them as a fascinating legal problem—see the recent ABA article— Delivery Drone Plan presents Legal Minefield
The article lists the following possible issues:
- Liability—drone crashes, who pays for damage
- Privacy—can a drone be a peeping tom or is the pilot the responsible party and who is charged with the crime
- Insurance issues—the insurance industry has no answer but is puzzling it out
I live in Michigan, the land of hunters and fishers. I can easily foresee our hunters grabbing their rifle or shotgun, dashing out the door, taking aim and shooting down the drone for invading their personal airspace. The citizens of Deer Tail, Colorado (located about 55 miles east of Denver and also full of outdoorsy folks) came up with a clever moneymaking idea.
For a fee of $25.00 the citizens can buy a drone-hunting license. Hunters who shoot down a drone and bring it to the city fathers will receive a $100.00 bounty. Bounties are not new. They have been used effectively in the past to rid a city of rats, crows, sparrows and other pests. It might work here.
Lastly, there is a drone called Skyjack, created by serial hacker and security analyst, Samy Kambar. It can seek out a drone going about its business, take over the controls and effectively turn it into a zombie drone that will bend to the will of the new operator. What will the law say about that? Assume the drone is in your airspace, you zap it with fancy technology using your Wi-Fi and bring it into your garage, take its cargo and keep it for your own use. Is that a crime? Who will enforce it? Who will report it? Can the true owner track it down?
Lot’s of fun questions. This might be a new niche area of law that will keep some enterprising lawyers busy for a long time.
Click here to see a drone in flight: