Saw this interesting post from Aidan White about drone journalism, the use of small helicopters to take aerial shots at events or incidents.
The BBC and other major media are already experimenting with drone technology and in Australia, where the law was changed some years ago, broadcasters caused controversy with the use of unmanned flying cameras to film an immigration detention centre.
Although the benefits of the technology are self-evident, particularly for reporting from disaster zones, there is a dark side with fears of erosion of privacy protection and an explosion of unethical and intrusive journalism.
While existing privacy laws should be enough to protect celebrities and public figures from over-enthusiastic and robotic paparazzi, aerial access to schools, hospitals, asylum centres and people's homes may pose new challenges for media who need to be wary of infringing the rights of vulnerable people.
Drone enthusiasts are keen to encourage responsible use of the technology. Matthew Schroyer, for instance has founded the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, and created a drone journalism code of ethics. He argues that the added value of unmanned flying journalism can be enjoyed if people use the technology ethically.
This may be wishful thinking, but there is time for some ethical reflection. Drone journalism will remain grounded for some years until there are changes in laws particularly in the United States and Europe.