Legal Issues Surrounding Defense Drones Essay

3513 words - 15 pages

The term “drone” covers a wide variety of unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones range in size from one pound to 30,000 pounds. Various components can be added to a drone to increase its capability. Drones can be heat-seeking or capable of detecting certain chemicals, for example. Because of the variety of functions of drones, there is a great deal of interest in both public and private sectors in expanding drone usage. As drone use evolves in the United States, there are many legal ramifications to consider. This paper discusses current drone use, the future of drones, and the legal issues involved.
Government Drone Use
Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have shifted the ...view middle of the document...

As mentioned earlier, the primary mission the US defense uses drones is for ISR. Although, it is not necessarily cheaper to run drones as opposed to manned aircrafts, it most certainly does avoid putting human lives at danger. The defense prefers to operate unmanned vehicles in hostile environments to carry out strikes, rescues or even just routine surveillance. The technology has helped up the risk that either party are willing to take in opposing scenarios. The most effective example of drone employment by the defense is their use in striking militant/terrorist cells and targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s government and public strongly oppose these strikes stating that they are in violation of international law, UN policies and are downright inhumane given the causalities or collateral damage caused as a result. The US has also used drones for targeted strikes not only outside its borders but also inside. Before addressing the concerns of these strikes, it is necessary to outline the precise scope of drones and their intended purpose. Firstly, the technology is not inherently responsible for collateral damage any more than a manned vehicle would be. All air strikes by nature are bound to have a blast radius and given a civil environment there is a good chance of causing causalities and damages. They are still commissioned, authorized and operated by the defense department. Secondly, drones are not necessarily nor always a cheaper alternative. Having stated that, their development and extensive usage, especially by the current administration has met with more than just a little resistance by activist groups, privacy groups, and the public and other countries alike. Privacy and governance issues are by far the most voiced opinions. The technology gives immense freedom and confidence to operators due to the lack of possible human threat on their end. In the case of the targeted strikes on terrorist bases in Pakistan and Afghan borders, some of the issues that come into play are international air rights, trespassing, secrecy, invasion of privacy, international law etc. Although, countries do allow other countries to operate international bases on their land, drones have started to blur the line of flexibility. By nature of the technology the operators wield immense power in the way they choose to utilize it. The lack of transparency not only to countries like Pakistan but also to the countries’ own governing or overseeing bodies and its citizens is potentially disturbing. Drones called ‘predators’ are flown routinely by the Customs and Border Protection Agency for surveillance purposes at the US-Mexico borders. Predators bring in feeds from a lot of American and Mexican residential areas/neighborhoods that happen to share the borders vicinity. Domestic airspace and land privacy area trade off as a result. Operators are able to view and store all of these images and video feed on demand. Privacy watchdogs raise concerns on...

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