Drones and privacy

Earlier this month, the Kansas Department of Trans?portation announced the first unmanned aerial systems (UAS) summit in Kansas next month in Wichita. The event seems to have a strong business bent to it, and no wonder. Kansas stands to gain $2.9 billion over the next 10 years through UAS applications in agriculture, search and rescue, surveying and much more,? according to Tiffany Brown, KDOT?s director of aviation. ?With this summit we hope to both improve the public perception of UAS and keep Kansas at the forefront of attracting UAS industry to our great state,? she said.

We hope the summit also addresses the use of drones by hobbyists, particularly as it relates to protecting the privacy of citizens.

Earlier this year, a Free Reader dropped by our office to report she was stopped at a downtown intersection when a drone descended near her vehicle. The drone appeared to be equipped with a camera, although she wasn?t sure she if she was being surveilled. Regardless, the incident left her upset by the possibility. We called city hall to inquire about legal restrictions on the use of drones within city limits, but we were told few if any exist.

We affirm the positive benefits drones can offer law enforcement, agriculture, emergency management, small business and research. But we also realize the potential misuse of the technology by individuals with voyeuristic inclinations. We hope the KDOT gathering will address legal protections from the inevitable nefarious minority in order to ensure that privacy and other citizen rights will be protected. ?DR