WASHINGTON (AP) — Legal experts say privacy laws urgently need to be updated to protect citizens from information-gathering by the thousands of civilian drones expected to be flying in U.S. skies in the next decade or so.
The experts told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that federal and state privacy laws have been outpaced by advances in drone technology. A budding commercial drone industry is poised to put mostly small, unmanned aircraft to countless uses, from monitoring crops to acting as lookouts for police SWAT teams.
Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor, says current privacy protections related to aerial surveillance are based on court decisions from the 1980s. He said that if Americans’ privacy concerns aren’t addressed, the benefits of potentially “transformative” drone technology may not be realized.