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Are India’s new drone regulations intended to make operations easier or to mass surveillance?

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has recently released new rules for the operation of drones in the country, which have raised concerns about their potential for mass surveillance. The new rules, which went into effect on December 1, 2020, aim to streamline the process for obtaining clearance to fly drones and to increase safety measures. But critics say that the rules also provide a framework for mass surveillance, and that they lack sufficient privacy protections.

The new rules require all drone operators to register their drones with the DGCA and to obtain clearance to fly in specific airspace. They also impose restrictions on the altitude at which drones can fly and on the areas where they can operate. These rules are being hailed as a step towards safer and more efficient drone operations in India. However, some experts have raised concerns that the rules could be used to expand the government’s surveillance capabilities.

The DGCA’s rules allow the government to track and monitor drone flights in real-time, which could be used to collect data on the movements of individuals. This could include data on their location, speed, and altitude, as well as information on the payload they are carrying. This data could be used to identify individuals and track their movements, which would be a violation of their privacy.

Critics also argue that the new rules lack sufficient safeguards to protect against misuse of the data collected by drones. The DGCA has not yet released any guidelines on how the data collected by drones will be stored, shared, or used, leaving the door open for potential abuse. Additionally, there is no mechanism in place to prevent the data from being used for non-drone-related purposes, such as criminal investigations or intelligence gathering.

The new rules also allow the government to grant exceptions to certain operators, such as the military and law enforcement agencies, which could further increase the potential for misuse. These exceptions could also be used to circumvent the rules and regulations that are in place to protect citizens’ rights and privacy.

In conclusion, while the new rules for drone operations in India are being marketed as a way to ease operations and increase safety, they also have potential for mass surveillance. The rules must be accompanied by robust privacy protections and guidelines to ensure that the data collected by drones is not misused or abused. The Indian government must ensure that the use of drones is done in a way that respects citizens’ rights to privacy and civil liberties.





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