Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones,” are a military technology now being developed for civilian and commercial use in the United States. With the federal government moving to develop rules for these uses in U.S. airspace by 2015, technologists, researchers, and news organizations are considering application of drone technology for reporting and data gathering. UAVs offer an inexpensive way to put cameras and sensors in the air to capture images and data but also pose serious concerns about safety, privacy, conflict of interest, perspective, and credibility. This research examines the early ethical considerations among drone journalism developers and digital information activists. It places those considerations against the backdrop of utilitarian ethical theory applied to journalism to suggest additional layers of reasoning that must be applied to drones in reporting. Finally, it suggests articulation of ethical guidelines and transparency with the public as means to address inevitable adverse effects of use of this technology.

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