Posts Authored by Eva Cuollo

Is the use of commercial drone technology a privacy threat?

Drones have rapidly evolved from recreational toys to powerful devices that can bolster numerous commercial activities. From the delivery of business items to the fulfillment of lunch orders, drone technology is becoming more accessible to and applicable within a multitude of business settings.

This is especially true in the construction market, for example, where drones can provide previously-inaccessible views of projects and landscapes at low costs. However, these camera-equipped devices also raise concerns as to what else is being recorded besides the target picturesque views. Any commercial business looking to involve the increasingly efficient technology of drones must be aware of legal obligations related to registration of their devices and sensitive to public views of privacy.

All commercial drone users are required to proceed through a three-step process. First, the owner must receive an N-number aircraft registration for the drone and obtain a Section 333 exemption from the airworthiness requirements necessary to operate full-size aircrafts using that same N-number registration. Lastly, the owner needs a certificate of authorization or waiver to fly in a specifically described airspace. For businesses, like construction companies, this would require inclusion of the flight path details and the intended use off the drone.

The developments in drone technology have created new issues regarding individuals’ privacy. In order to photograph new construction or capture breathtaking skyline views for artistic or marketing purposes, drones often contain continuously-recording cameras. What happens when one of these cameras catch a person on film and without their consent? Capturing this type of footage can implicate applicable “peeping tom” or un-authorized surveillance statutes and may result in unintended liability to the drone operator.

However, in reality, the commercial use of drones is unlikely to cause any real threat to security and privacy. Absent an ill intent to spy or conduct surveillance on others, incidental footage of private individuals would not rise to the level necessary to violate privacy laws.    

Moreover, the ACLU has stated that it would be better for states to create more tailored laws regulating drone use rather than overarching governance that would severely restrict the many efficient and useful applications of drone technology.

Commercial businesses should endeavor to research both federal and state regulations before adopting drone technology in their respective markets. While this area of regulation is constantly changing and it is essential to remain mindful of privacy concerns, drone technology can be a viable and valuable tool for many business practices. 

General News

Self-driving cars: Safe but not secure

Self-driving cars used to be artificial intelligence of the imagination, represented only in the sci-fi tropes of media. But as automotive and technology industries are rapidly producing more autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars will likely become a fixture in modern life.          

The benefits of self-driving vehicles are vast, with safety being the most prevalent. The technology has already been promoted to eliminate categories of common accidents, increasing the welfare of other drivers and pedestrians. Accidents due to drunk or distracted driving may be a thing of the past. In these cases, the car would safely drive itself, while the “driver” is free to pay attention to other matters.

However, there are cyber risks in creating and using this technology. Researchers found ways to hack in to the wireless connection in a Jeep Cherokee. This hacked wireless connection provided control over audio, air conditioning and the transmission — causing the vehicle to halt in the middle of a highway. Though the technology system may provide an overall safer driving experience, a hacked connection can lead to catastrophic incidents. This potential for hacking leads to other issues: who will bear the burden of liability, and how will insurance companies handle these conflicts?

While self-driving cars are quickly becoming more common, cybersecurity must be researched and increased before usage of this type of technology becomes prolific. 

General News