Legal challenges in the use of drones

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Society

Legal challenges in the use of drones


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Summary

  • Drones are aircraft that can be remotely controlled by an authorized person to allow them to fly independently.
  • They have various benefits for businesses and this is why they have various uses.
  • They have been used to access areas that are difficult or risky for direct human access.

There has been an increased use of drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles – in various industries. The increased use of drones by various companies will help these companies gain a competitive advantage.

Drones are aircraft that can be remotely controlled by an authorized person to allow them to fly independently. Drones have different benefits for businesses and this is why they have various uses.

Drones have been used to access areas that are difficult or risky for direct human access. Some examples include archaeological sites and even construction sites. Drones were deployed to acquire data at archaeological sites. Drones have been deployed in real estate developments where aerial views are taken.

Likewise, drones have been used in filming and journalism. Using drones for filming has been made much easier by the use of drones.

Drones are used in agriculture. Crop spraying drones are increasingly being used to spray large agricultural areas.

Drones have also been deployed for deliveries. During the lockdown, drones were used to deliver food and medicine to the affected areas. Rwanda and Ghana have turned to the delivery of vital medicines by drones to remote areas.

The customer would send an order text message and the drone would deliver the medicine in minutes. Drones have also been used in security for surveillance.

A firm in one of these industries can leverage new technology to gain a competitive advantage. For example, a filming company can implement drone technology to provide better services to their customers.

The use of drones, however, raises a number of legal and ethical challenges. A prudent drone user would be careful to minimize ethical and legal risks. A legal challenge is the risk of the drone causing personal and material injury, thereby exposing the owner to unlawful liability. An example is if the drone encroaches on a person’s territory.

Jurisprudence in several jurisdictions has held drone users liable for tort where the drone flew over private property and collected data without consent. The use of drones could also create the risk of tort and noise pollution. It is therefore important to stick to the legal districts when using drones.

The use of drones carries a high risk of privacy violation. Drones can be used to spy on and gather unauthorized information. While not used for spying, drones can collect a lot of data. The constitution guarantees citizens the right to privacy and this includes data privacy.

The user of the drone should therefore comply with privacy laws even while using the drone. The owner should be cautious about how the data collected by the drone should be used. For example, it shouldn’t mine that data or sell it because of the individuals’ privacy rights.

Ethical issues arise in the way a drone is used. For example, it shouldn’t be used for spying.

Kenya passed regulations on unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) systems in 2020 which allow the use of drones but under very strict terms. There are very strict licensing terms that cover various areas from importing drones, to selling and using them.

Drone owners must meet technical and operational requirements before they can issue a license. The pilot operating the drone must also be authorized.

Strict deadlines are imposed on the drone crew. It cannot fly above a certain height and beyond the prescribed geographical area. The use of data derived from the drone is also regulated.

Drones cannot be used by children or people living outside of Kenya. Drones must be registered as airworthy before they can be deployed.

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