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Privacy Concerns Should Not Stunt the Growth of the Drone Industry

In September 2013, Pierre Hines published an article in the Daily Beast titled "Privacy Concerns Should Not Stunt the Growth of the Drone Industry" with the aim to educate people about the risk of enacting legislation that would limit the benefits of non-military drone use. Hines, a government contracts attorney at Covington & Burling LLP, details the many valuable uses for drones beyond military and law enforcement surveillance and why legalizing drones for commercial use would benefit everyone. He provides several examples of parties that could benefit from the use of drones such as universities, retail deliveries, search and rescue, border patrol, and firefighting missions. Hines further explains the national legal framework which he concludes could regulate safety and privacy concerns and allow the industry to grow. While Hines does support his ideas with some well-intentioned advantages of drone usage, the author fails to educate readers of the potential risks involving the infringement of privacy for the common citizen. Consequently, this article fails in its purpose to fully educate readers on the safety concerns yet justifies the continual growth of the Drone industry.
In his article, Hines establishes his credibility on this topic by informing the reader that he is a former US Army intelligence officer. Hines was able to provide a great amount of information about the use of drones, the advantages of drones, the issue of privacy and the need for a legal framework from his experience and point-of-view.
He refutes the idea to categorically ban drones when they crash and cause injury or damage by using piloted planes as an example for no such prohibition. The author continues to describe the future of regulating the industry by how safety and privacy risks would be reduced. However, Hines does not list what the risks are and what would be the consequences for those who incur the risks, nor does he provide statistics on any past incidences. He further concludes that the elimination of all risks is futile.
Although the article makes a valid claim on the use of drone surveillances by the military and law enforcement, what he did not go through is how the four privacy protections applies to common citizens using drone technology. Although he explains that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires certification for the operation of drones and that it is “illegal to fly drones over major urban areas or use them for commercial purposes”, consumers are able to purchase drones from big-box retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart without training, certification, or license. He offers little no discussion on this aspect.
Aforementioned, his article is lacking valid resources or an actual case study to support his position for alternative uses of drones. For example, Hines states, “The decreasing cost of drones and increasing capabilities mean that drones won't strain police resources the same way old-fashioned police work would.” The author fails to provide any actual data for his readers to verify or any further discussion on emission pollution to our environment. However, Hines is quite successful in explaining drone surveillance for law enforcement and how the current laws provide protections to citizens from this aspect. Finally, the author ends the article on a positive note – closing with the possibility of a drone policy being established.
Hines organizes the article by sub-topics to give readers a better understanding of the information. He begins his article by giving his audience the foundation of the main topic within the first sub-topic titled “The Uses of Drones”. He explains the different purposes of drone usage and the pros and cons for the operation of them. Hines continues building his article with two supporting sub-topics. In the second sub-topic titled “The Issue of Safety”, Hines discusses the safety of operating drones. He indicates that drones can be faulty causing injury and property damage to private citizens. He further explains that the FAA requires a Remote Pilot certification in order to operate a drone. The next sub-topic titled “The Issue of Privacy”, he purports that the second major obstacle to the proliferation of drones is the fear that they will infringe on the privacy of the general public. To conclude his article, the sub-topic titled “The Need for a Legal Framework”, Hines explains that even though the restriction of drones in 42 states is not the problem, the real problem is that there's no coherent legal framework at a national level. Hines wrote this article in an orderly fashion to support of a biased position on the continued growth of the drone industry. Hines built the readers understanding of the issues surrounding drone usage by describing the basics of drones to the legal implications.
Upon inspection, Hines uses a formal style of language in the article. He uses every day, ordinary words where a layperson can comprehend and he refrains from using complex, technical words. He also kept a balance between academic or scientific expressions. In the article, for example, the author quotes the following:
“… In fact, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have used drones to monitor hurricanes, and during the recent fire at Yosemite National Park in California, a drone was used to track the blaze's path.”
In this quotation, Hines uses either academic or scientific language for ordinary readers and militarians. Mr. Hines also did not avoid the use of contractions. In several instances, he used contractions such as, “isn’t”, “hasn’t”, “shouldn’t”, and “won’t”. Also, the author uses appropriate transitional words and phrases to describe relationships between ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. An example of this is when he used words and phrases such as “However” and “In fact”. There is fluidity as he transitions from paragraph to paragraph.
Overall, the article was a very interesting read. Hines makes some very clear points in outlining the benefits of drone usage for law enforcement. Although drones are not inherently surveillance tools, he discusses that the technology cannot be used without a warrant to spy on Americans in their residences. It is inappropriate for the author to make such specific claims in support of opening this industry further without defining for the readers the implications of private drone usage or how drones can be used to violate the rights of citizens. In the end, readers may suspect if Hines has a personal interest, especially when the advancement of his career has a stake in the matter. He has obviously overlooked an opportunity to create a real balanced and informative written assessment to his audience.