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A Drone New World

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:11 PM EDT

Already in use by the military for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may soon give anyone the ability to snoop, pry and peer into our lives in ways even George Orwell couldn't imagine.

By 2015 the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning to release guidelines to allow drones weighing up to 50 lbs to fly as high as 400 ft. anywhere. For just a few hundred dollars and a hook-up to an iPhone anyone may have the ability to watch and record things which used to be off limits – or at least were harder to reach.

Wide availability of these high-tech gadgets prompt concerns not just over invasion of privacy but also with safety. The larger the drone - the bigger and faster the rotor blades become to operate the machine – and experts say drones are not immune to accidents.

"People who are making drones like to say they are safer than manned aircraft," New America Foundation Fellow Konstantin Kakaes said. "But the drones in the Air Force fleet crash three times as often as manned aircraft."

Law enforcement officials argue that the proliferation of drones may actually make us safer – such as in the case of the Boston Marathon Bombings where UAVs may have helped first responders allocate resources more effectively.

The ACLU says there need to be legal guidelines on how personal drones can be used, and restrictions put into place. Right now the FCC is still working on the regulations for flying drones – there’s no word yet on whether they will meet the 2015 deadline.

A Drone New World

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Washington Times