Legal and ethical concerns of drone surveillance

May 22, 2014

The use of so-called drones – unmanned aircraft – for domestic security purposes, surveillance of citizens and putative criminals and organizations raises many legal and ethical concerns particularly with regard to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, Council of Europe instruments, and the EU Data Protection Framework, according to a research paper published in the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry.

Gregory Voss of the Toulouse Business School (TBS), at Toulouse University, in France, suggests that the rise of for surveillance and other applications highlights particular challenges to civil liberties and tensions between these and and justice concerns.

The dictionary defines a drone as "an or ship guided by remote control". Drones may use global positioning system (GPS) satellite technology, advanced , high-resolution camera technology and embedded computer systems and so have many advantages over all previously existing surveillance methods. "The fact that they may be operated without personnel onboard allows them to be used when conventional aerial is too costly, or for long periods of time where personnel fatigue is an issue," explains Voss. These unmanned flying machines can also be much smaller than conventional aircraft and so less expensive and less obtrusive. Voss points out that the drones currently deployed in active military zones may soon need to be put to new use on their return to the USA and elsewhere once active military service is complete. He also adds that the domestic use of drones is very likely to be spurred on by industry.

"The use of images and other data from drones for security purposes has not yet been the subject of specific legal provisions. However, existing legal principles must be complied with in order to allow this use," says Voss. European Union law has provision only for the data once it has been obtained not regarding how it is obtained. US law focuses on government intrusion but there are also constitutional guarantees regarding how data is obtained, leaving this up to member state law, and whether it is admissible as evidence in a criminal court. However, in the aftermath of the National Security Agency (NSA) "PRISM" revelations and subsequent scandal, the emergence of drones and their privacy implications may give new impetus to the adoption of privacy legislation at the Federal level in the USA.

Explore further: Homeland Security drones resume flying after crash

More information: "Privacy law implications of the use of drones for security and justice purposes" W. Gregory Voss, Int. J. of Liability and Scientific Enquiry, 2013 Vol.6, No.4, pp.171 - 192. DOI: 10.1504/IJLSE.2013.060848

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

News media challenge ban on journalism drones

May 06, 2014

More than a dozen media organizations challenged the U.S. government's ban on the use of drones by journalists Tuesday, saying the Federal Aviation Administration's position violates constitutional free press ...

US Homeland Security sued for drone details

Oct 31, 2012

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said Wednesday it has sued the US Department of Homeland Security to obtain details about Predator drones on loan to domestic police departments.

Congress gets mixed advice on regulating drones

May 17, 2013

(AP)—The growing use of unmanned surveillance "eyes in the sky" aircraft raises a thicket of privacy concerns, but the U.S. Congress is getting mixed advice on what, if anything, to do about it.

US aviation agency to appeal drone ruling

Mar 08, 2014

The US aviation agency said Friday it will appeal the dismissal of a $10,000 fine it imposed on a Swiss entrepreneur who flew a drone over a college campus to make a commercial.

Protect privacy from drones at home, lawmakers say

Jul 19, 2012

Before thousands of civilian drones begin flying in U.S. skies, Congress should take steps to protect the public's privacy and prevent terrorists from hacking or jamming signals that control the aircraft, lawmakers said Thursday.

Recommended for you

China's Alibaba plans IPO for week of September 8

34 minutes ago

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba plans to hold its initial public offering on the US stock market the week of September 8, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Tablet sales slow as PCs find footing

1 hour ago

Tablets won't eclipse personal computers as fast as once thought, according to studies by market tracker International Data Corporation (IDC).

Startups offer banking for smartphone users

1 hour ago

The latest banks are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Startups, such as Moven and Simple, offer banking that's designed specifically for smartphones, enabling users to track their spending on the go. Some things ...

FIXD tells car drivers via smartphone what is wrong

14 hours ago

A key source of anxiety while driving solo, when even a bothersome back-seat driver's comments would have made you listen: the "check engine" light is on but you do not feel, smell or see anything wrong. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tscati
5 / 5 (1) May 22, 2014
"Voss points out that the drones currently deployed in active military zones may soon need to be put to new use on their return to the USA and elsewhere once active military service is complete"

Why? I don't hear anyone saying that tanks, bombs and cruise missiles will have to be put to new use when they leave Afghanistan.