On this 4th of July 2012, we here in the United States celebrate our historic self-elected departure from British rule in 1776. With adoption of our Declaration of Independence, King George III of England was none too happy about the idea that we here in the ‘colonies’ might reject his laws (and taxes). Of course that document was finally drafted and signed on this day over 230 years ago by the Continental Congress regardless of the King’s wishes, and the war of Independence took a new and final turn in American history.
The Declaration insisted that men are created equal, and eventually this view led 11 years later to our Constitution which guaranteed certain rights. The question is, if the King had available to him aerial drones in America, would Independence have happened?
This past week it was announced that UAV/drone makers of the ‘Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’ tried to draft a sort of constitution on their own. Recognizing the backlash of recent anti-drone domestic sentiment, this trade group tried to address the issue head on. However where the national document can be enforced, this trade document is nonenforceable.
One of the articles of the AUVSI(?) states that drone manufacturers will, among other things:
“…respect the privacy of individuals…” and “…pledge to ensure that remote drone pilots are properly trained and to respect “other users of the airspace.”
Hey, that’s great. But what about the people they sell them to? While sure, the manufacturers can pledge these things, it’s kind of silly to even make a statement like that. Where most ‘pledges’ are used to proclaim things that are optional (like drinking alcohol…legal regadless), what’s the alternative here; to ‘not’ follow the local laws and respect users of the ‘airspace’?? This statement, and a few others cited seem toothless.
So back to celebrating July 4th in the U.S., the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed in less than a month. What if George III had used drones to track the Continental Congress? Would Thomas Jefferson been able to get away with penning such a document in time? (Lets ignore that if they had drones they’d probably have computers instead of quills), but the King probably could have squashed the resistance in its tracks. He would have recieved real time updates on his subjects goings-on, and he certainly would have had a better idea as to the severity of the hostility against his rule.
That said, I’m pretty sure the Founding Fathers would have flatly rejected the use of drones to spy on the American people. While the attempt by the industry to at least acknowledge the problem is noble, putting the technology into the hands of civilian law enforcement might have been a Consitutional deal breaker.