Are Drones Violating Our Privacy? Or Is There None Left?


Graphic By Ashley Cai

I click on a Facebook article that catches my interest. Data spins into a digital world of my personal preferences and potential advertising weaknesses. A green light blinks on my webcam, indicating it is capturing video of my every move, but I’m oblivious as the words I read play into my deepest fears. As I close the page, the website stores my house’s IP address into its analytics. Ironically, the web page I was browsing informed me that drones are threatening one of my most important rights: privacy.

Needless to say, the fear of drones is ironic in the sense that drones are not the only threat to our privacy. This fear is incredibly justified,but applies to far more than just drones. Modern day tech has stripped away personal privacy; those conscious of the threat drones pose to privacy should also be aware of how the technology we use everyday keeps track of our personal information.

There are numerous amounts of ways we are losing our privacy every day, be it forgetting to uncheck the tickbox and sending data to a company when creating an account or unintentionally granting programs access to the hardware’s webcam.

Take the popular international messaging app WhatsApp, for example. On August 25 2016, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy for the first time in four years. The new changes reflect Facebook’s influence on the property, having purchased the app back in 2014. WhatsApp now sends user information to Facebook, including the phone numbers used to verify accounts. WhatsApp’s website posted an announcement saying this data will be used in part for more accurate ad targeting, though the company assured users their phone numbers will not be sold.

My grandma, who is tech-savvy enough to download the app for her trip to the United Kingdom, will probably not browse the settings to opt-out of the partially-optional data sharing services. She is one of the billion people who now use WhatsApp.

The concept of drones is scary because of their maneuverability and cameras ready to record. While technology has enabled drones to be manufactured surprisingly compactly and inconspicuously, an object flying through the sky is likely more noticeable than the majority of cameras already recording part of our lives.

You’ve probably waved at a security camera in Target and watched yourself wave back from the screen that proves everyone is under live surveillance. Residential homes sometimes have security cameras monitoring both the outside and inside of someone’s personal living quarters. The devices we use every day have cameras, sometimes used without our knowledge and other times used with lack of good judgement. The reality is that we already live in a world in which a significant portion of our lives is captured digitally.

Although our privacy is considerably more limited than it was a decade or so ago, it is still a crucial aspect of our lives. It’s important to keep an eye on the ways drones might encroach on our privacy, because it’s important to keep an eye on all the ways our privacy is being violated. There are far more than just drones keeping an eye on you.