The following is an excerpt from THE EDITORIAL BOARD | January 9, 2016 | Nytimes.com |
Though it would have been inconceivable just a few years ago, among the most popular gifts this past holiday season was the drone. Increasingly coveted by hobbyists and businesses, these devices flew (as it were) off the shelves and into living rooms by the hundreds of thousands.
But as drones have become smaller, cheaper and more numerous — some popular consumer models sell for less than $1,000 — policy makers have had to address potential problems. These machines can obviously be put to good use — say, inspecting cellphone towers, shooting movies or compiling multidimensional real estate portfolios. They can also be used to snoop on people and harass them. And they can threaten other aircraft.
Some regulation of the private and commercial use of drones thus seems inevitable. The task for regulators is how to protect privacy and promote safety without infringing on the First Amendment rights of citizens and businesses that wish to use drones for legitimates purposes, like photography or news gathering (The Times has used drones to shoot videos and take photographs).
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