Excruciating City Council Meeting Proves No One Knows Anything About Drones

Ocean City’s finest privacy advocates.

Nov 18 2015, 9:09pm

This Ocean City, New Jersey town hall meeting is reaching Parks and Recreation-levels of absurdity. On November 12, the city passed a 9-month ban on drones over the island's five-mile radius at any altitude, citing privacy and safety concerns. But to hear it straight from the people who supported the ban—some of which are, of course, understandable!—we can't help but pick apart some of the more nauseatingly misinformed paranoias.

One man thinks drones will be one step above billboards, creating Ocean City's future generations of surf and skate bros:

"Young people, Their mental wires aren't touching yet. And it's consistent with having raised five kids, wires don't touch until they're 22 or 23," he said.

"We'll be prone to pranks, even the potential for holograms. Now think about that, imagine a line of builders, realtors, plumbers, in a congo line, broadcasting on the skies above coastal cottages," he added. "Then you think about holograms on top of skateboard park showing things to be purchased like skateboards and surfboards and things like that."

One woman said pedophiles would come out of the woodwork in droves, now that they have drones. While it's true that not everyone with a drone has noble purposes in mind, many cases of drone "spying" have been enthusiasts flying high over public areas taking nature photography and the like.

"A would be abductor or pedophile could stalk a child and nobody would really know where it was coming from or who the person was," she said. "So I think there's a severe danger to having drones as they are now."

Another man thought that drones could see through walls:

"There's really no need to have them taking pictures and using infrared sensors to peer through our walls. It's a Fourth Amendment issue and it's a public safety issue."

Of course, no one is quite sure what to do with drones moving forward. It's unclear whether local municipalities even have the authority to regulate drones, as the Federal Aviation Administration has clear authority over the air. But the agency has been slow to regulate them, which has led to cities and towns taking drastic measures, even when it's clear few people in them actually understand the technology.

You can't blame these people for being so engaged with their local government, but it's clear the general public has been misinformed about drone capabilities and their potential uses. Those tin foil hats can come right off.