Journal of Air Law and Commerce


Since ancient times, humanity has placed high value on natural and cultural phenomena, with Philo of Byzantium recording the first list of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” as early as 225 B.C.E. Similarly, modern world leaders continue to recognize the value of these and more sites through preserving them as United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites. With the advancement of drone technology, researchers now employ drones to aid preservation efforts since drones can enter dangerous and humanly-inaccessible spaces, provide detailed images of sites the human eye cannot see, and assist governments in identifying illegal looting. However, while many countries have developed drone use regulations, the challenging ethical questions drones pose regarding privacy rights have resulted in a lack of drone-specific privacy regulations. As countries create new legislation to fill the policy gaps, the tension between protecting privacy rights and preserving cultural heritage results in an unclear future for the use of drones for site preservation.

Section II of this Comment analyzes the history of World Heritage sites, drone development, and their intersection to understand the vital role drones play in site preservation. Subsequently, Section III conducts a comparative analysis of drone-use and privacy regulations in four countries with the greatest amount of UNESCO sites to identify the current status of global drone laws. Finally, Section IV addresses the lack of drone-specific privacy regulation and asserts potential implications new drone legislation could have on preservation efforts while postulating methods to protect preservation drone use.



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)