The Appalachian

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just a drone flying over NC

Dewey Mullis

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Drones have become a hot topic as of late, especially because government surveillance and spying has become controversial both at home and abroad.

But the use of drones for agricultural, surveying, disaster response, suspect and offender tracking purposes could become a reality in North Carolina.

Chief Information Officer Chris Estes said he requested $215,000 to be included in the state’s budget to pay for an executive director and data analyst for an Unmanned Aircraft System board, according to the News & Observer.

North Carolina law prohibits any state or local government agency from using drones without being given special permission from the state. North Carolina State University is currently the only entity in the state with such permission.

The opportunity that the use of drones presents could be exponential and is certainly worth looking into.

There is certainly an incredible financial opportunity. Tasks for which aircraft are usually responsible, such as crop surveillance and disaster response, could be replaced with UASs.

And while these aircrafts are priced in the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of dollars, drones can do the job for between $30,000 and $50,000, according to USA Today.

And while the state would save money by switching to the usage of drones, North Carolina also has the opportunity to bring the UAS industry within its borders. The Federal Aviation Administration said drone technologies had the potential to create more than 100,000 jobs in the United States, according to USA Today.

It all sounds great so far. But if the drone debate leads to an acceptance of the expanding technology, the state of North Carolina will bear a burden, which is making sure that drones are not at all in the hands of law enforcement agencies or are used for purposes such as surveillance of offenders, suspects or private lives of private citizens.

Privacy and due process are already weakening following the explosion of social media and networking, alleged spying by the government and a general uneasiness about not knowing who knows what. North Carolina cannot afford to allow even the slightest possibility that legal rights and reputations would be hindered, infringed upon or even allegedly harmed.

The financial benefits and the possibility of being an industry in the state are too good to be jeopardized by a breach in rights.

Dewey Mullis, a junior criminal justice major from Wallburg, is an opinion writer.

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just a drone flying over NC