They’re Watching

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Here’s an interesting article about how states and municipalities are wrestling with creating a framework of rules for when, where and how law enforcement organizations can use drones. Some of the uses are non-controversial: tracking forest fires, finding lost hikers. But obviously they can be used for all sorts of things that turn into real invasions of privacy.

What interests me just as much as the privacy dimension, however, is how the proliferation of drones is about to completely challenge the way we keep flying objects safe in the air and change fundamentally how we manage air traffic.

We have a Prime longform on this subject we’re going to be publishing toward the end of this month. But the gist is that there’s simply no way to keep up with the number of drones we’re likely to have in the air in the coming years using anything like our current approach to air traffic control. There will just be too many things flying around and too many not under any kind of direct human control. So the FAA is in the midst of planning a new system in which every flying object or nearly every flying object has to have technology on board which constant sends out GPS-based notifications about where it is.

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