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Let’s talk privacy, utilitarianism, and drones. Privacy is a right we are given as a citizen of the developed world. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Some amount of privacy is a right we are given as a citizen of the developed world. There’s that grey area we know and love. Now, I’m not planning to bore you with all the frequently debated internet-related privacy talk. Instead, I am going to narrow the focus of the discussion with privacy and how it relates to our recent trend to use drones (and not the friendly kind you and your buddies use in your aerospace lab).
Our privacy rights are highlighted in section eight of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — “everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure”. Of course, we give up these rights when there is a cause of the search is reasonable – where reasonable is being defined as common-law evolves in different privacy domains. And it is here, as citizens, we make this trade off with our right to privacy. The utility we get for having our privacy invaded – at times unfairly – is worth the result of having a safer society to live in.
Now, where do drones fit into this picture you may ask? Let’s put aside the topic of drones being death-inducing terror monster machines and instead just think about surveillance drones. Nations are using them quite effectively even in local / non-warfare conflicts. And as you would imagine, the use of drones is already being questioned in its infringement on our privacy rights. As we live in a common-law run government (excluding those Frenchies in Quebec!), the outcome of the use of surveillance drones is yet to be determined. So I ask you the following questions Mr. P:
Are you personally comfortable with surveillance drones to be used locally to serve peace-keeping efforts and increase safety?
If so, where is your line where it becomes unacceptable?
And if you had the power to, would you implement an amendment to privacy rights to include surveillance drones?