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What you need to know for 01/22/2018

Editorial: Curb game of drones

Editorial: Curb game of drones

Drones pose a safety issue and should be more tightly regulated

If you think the issue with drones flying overhead is about privacy, you’re behind the times.

You have no privacy when you go outside anymore. The concern about these identified flying objects is about safety, and safety only.

The issue of drones came to light locally when a public access TV station in Schenectady got caught flying a toy helicopter armed with a camera over a recent downtown festival. People were appalled to learn later they were being videotaped without their knowledge.

Face it, folks, that ship has sailed. There are well over 100 street cameras watching you right now in Schenectady alone, between the security cameras scanning city neighborhoods, school buildings, bus stops, commercial buildings, hospitals and who else knows what. That doesn’t count the cameras inside stores, at toll booths and soon, maybe, at local traffic lights. And you’ve heard of Google Earth? “I can see my house from here,” has new meaning in 2014.

The TV station could have gotten overhead footage of the crowd, without raising an eyebrow, by simply mounting a camera atop a building.

The reason people should be concerned about drones is safety, which is why the Federal Aviation Administration, and not the NSA, is investigating the Schenectady case.

These mini-aircraft can cause a lot of damage under the right circumstances, from interfering with legitimate aircraft to crash-landing on people to dropping pieces. A penny weighs less than an ounce. Have someone drop one on your head from a two-story building and see if it hurts. A small toy copter with a camera can weigh several pounds. They also can interfere with traffic and power lines.

As these drones proliferate, the government needs to enact stricter and clearer regulations, including requiring permits, to ensure these aircraft are not putting the public in harm’s way.

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