Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spy in Sky vs Spy in Pocket

It's interesting that public sentiment around drone privacy incursion is far different than sentiment around Internet bellwethers like Google, FB, Apple, AT&T, etc. The underlying social theme, as long we don't see the spy, or the spy does also does something good for us, then spying is tolerable.  It's my view, a DJI Phantom is less of an incursion on my privacy than a smartphone.  A DJI Phantom flying over my property is likely a nosey neighbor - only one spy.  On the other hand, a smartphone is a virtual Panopticon into my personal life.  At the very minimum, smartphone monitoring includes: smartphone makers, telcos, social media, government, and law enforcement.  Many constituencies are involved.  My point is not to stir passions on privacy incursion but the difference in public perception about privacy threats.  As a more tangible and compelling example, let's pick on Amazon and their foray into dronespace.

Most American's are anxiously awaiting Amazon Prime Air and 30-minute product delivery.  I have found little in the way of tech specs for Amazon's proposed drone aircraft but imagine for a moment, thousands upon thousands of drones combing the sky each day.  What will be the disposition of drone sensor data?  My bet is that gathering drone data along delivery routes will be too tempting for business to ignore.  Although don't install camouflage netting over your home just yet.  There will be a initial greenfield period of data feasting but it seems likely privacy will find a balance.

Incidentally, shooting down a drone, even over your own property, is considered as an attack on an aircraft.  Today NTSB investigates aircraft crashes of aircraft with tail numbers.  Drones have no registration of any kind and investigation of drone crash incidents remains unclear.  Laws around drones are evolving.  Point being, work out your disputes peaceably if possible or contact law enforcement.

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