Editorial: Drone operators need to show some responsibility

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2019

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Isn’t technology wonderful.

It’s only been a dozen or so years since the first smart phone as we know it hit the market. Now, they’re everywhere — even in third world countries where photos show extreme poverty — there’s somebody on a smart phone.

The technology is great. Instant information on just about any subject. Instant contact with our loved ones. As a teenager, my parents took my word as to where I was going, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t always tell them the truth. Now, parents can track their kids via technology their kids don’t even know about.

But all of this technology brings some responsibility, as well. People are worried about Alexa letting others know what is going on in their homes, about their smart phones possibly giving out information they don’t want others to know. It’s all possible.

Drones are no different. They started out as military devices, then evolved into a common thing — mostly used as toys indoors. Nowadays, just about anybody can get a drone and fly it around in the air to their heart’s content. The prices continue to drop, the cameras continue to get better, and the range the drone can fly continues to increase.

Should they have the right to fly their drones anywhere they want?

Folks in the N.C. 801 South area just east of U.S. 601 don’t think so. One resident had heard buzzing and beeping from inside their home, and didn’t know what it was at first. Their concern escalated when they actually saw the drone.

Others were enjoying an evening outside when the drone stopped above them — hovering for minutes.

Considering the ease of putting cameras on these devices, that’s even more than concerning. It’s enough to make you mad.

It seems homeowners don’t own the air above their homes, at least not to some height that a court might decide. You expect some privacy in your back yard, but some idiot with a drone can destroy that in seconds.

What should a homeowner do?

Don’t shoot it down. At least not yet. That could get you into trouble with the law. But I would contact local law enforcement to at least get something on record.

The best bet would be to try to find out who is flying the drone, and let them know they’re not welcome to fly over your house because it bothers you. That could give you some recourse if the case ever goes to court. Take photos of the drone, which could give courts and law enforcement officials an idea of how high it is, maybe even ID the type of drone and owner. If the drone-flying idiot sees you taking photos of their drone, that could curtail it flying over your house again.

Unfortunately, there are few or no laws regarding the flying of drones. Regulations only go into effect if the drone reaches a certain height that could interfere with airplanes or other legal aircraft.

I’m not talking about legitimate drone operators, the ones who respect others’ privacy and don’t fly at night — but you’re really just operating a toy — a toy that can be very annoying to most people.

Criminal charges for flying a drone only happen when it can be proven the drone is being used to spy for an illegal purpose — such as peeping or searching for something to steal. Civil charges can happen for just being a nuisance.

And I’m sure there are many residents of Davie County, who upon seeing a drone hovering over their home, will do what is necessary to protect their families — even taking the consequences that may arise from shooting it down.

Drone operators, don’t fly over someone else’s property without permission. It’s not nice, and eventually, someone will get mad enough to take possession of your drone.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.

Respect Quote of the Week

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