What’s the news: Uttar Pradesh police will be monitoring drone activities in the state as per a Cabinet announcement on November 9, 2023, reported the Hindustan Times. The government approved the “Uttar Pradesh Drone Prachalan Suraksha Niti, 2023” that will require mandatory registration of drones. The policy also provides a unique identity to each UAV and allows the police to keep track of the presence of the drones in their respective areas.
During a press conference, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the policy will check the potential misuse of drones that are used in different fields, including photography, videography, agriculture and security. Additionally, the government will also be announcing red, green and yellow zones within the state for flying drones.
Why it matters: Drone regulation is becoming more common in recent times as the technology enters more fields and sectors. MediaNama has heard discussions of drones entering the healthcare sector and its presence in the agriculture sector is already well-established by the Indian government. However, there have also been instances where government departments have talked about using drones in a manner that severely violates people’s privacy. The Lucknow Safe City project is a model example of this. Similarly, many of us may remember how drones were used to monitor citizens in Tamil Nadu during the COVID-19 pandemic. Announcements like these thus stress the need to focus better on developments in the drone regulation sector of India.
Kerala hacks into unauthorized drones: In September 2022, Kerala government discussed a similar issue of drone management where they declared that an Eagle Eye anti-drone mobile vehicle will be used to hack unauthorized UAVs. This system developed by the drone forensics department of the state police is made to track and hack any drone that has been flying in the state without police permission. Instead of taking extreme measures against the UAV, it allows police to neutralize drones within a radius of 5km. The system will do this by intercepting the radio frequencies sent to the drones remotely.
MediaNama’s take: According to MediaNama Founder Nikhil Pahwa, the UP government’s decision raises follow-up questions like ‘Who controls air traffic control?’ or ‘Who polices a drone environment?’ “The UP Police thinks it should monitor [drone usage], which means that every state police will have a drone monitoring unit. How will this work?” asked Pahwa.
While it is true that not many entities are currently authorised to fly drones, however, as Pahwa points out there is always potential for misuse. Even drones used for agriculture contain harmful pesticides. Moreover, as we have seen in recent years, drones are also being used in warfares like Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine.
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