On Sunday in the FT magazine, Gillian Tett wrote an article flippantly headlined: “You’re never alone with a drone”.
She added, “Enthusiasts want fewer controls; privacy groups want tighter rules”. No reference is made to the humane who want their use as agents of murder ended.
With a cursory nod, she says, “Until recently, the word “drone” sparked headlines predominantly in relation to places such as Afghanistan and Iraq” but adds that these days, though, “the real action is with non-military drones”.
What is more real than dealing death?
- Parents and coaches are using drones to film school sports matches.
- Keen skiers are taking them to the slopes.
- Golfers, sailors and others use them.
- Richard Branson recently filmed himself kitesurfing.
- Hobbyists are using drones to film special events such as weddings
- Some use them to see what their neighbours are doing.
The big issue, not slaughter but regulation
Ms Tett complains that drone control is ‘a mess’. Washington regulators began debating the issue in 2008 and were intended to present a framework late last year.
She speculates that the 2016 election might concentrate politicians’ minds; this, not to avert civilian deaths abroad, but because drones could take unflattering pictures of candidates or spy on rival campaigns.
Powerful commercial groups and their lobbyists interacting with the US government’s Federal Aviation Association insist that America needs to give companies this freedom to keep US businesses competing on the world stage. Another report indicates that this campaign has been well received.
Though a Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that 73% of Americans want drones regulated and 42% oppose individual ownership altogether, the lobbyists insist that dangers will be solved by “free-market solutions to problems, such as developing sensors to prevent drones from crashing into electricity poles, aircraft or people”.
It seems that the possibility of people in America getting hurt is seen as a serious matter by Ms Tett, but the plight of the threatened, injured and killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen is not. Oh brave new world!