Airplanes / Aviation, Bad Ideas, Holidays and Seasons, Privacy, Shopping, Shopping For Others

Shopping And The Law

Did you catch 60 Minutes last night? Did you at least catch the 60 Minutes promos during various awesome football games this weekend?

On last night’s program, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos declared that Amazon intends to send drones to your house to deliver packages. I’m pretty sure this is the only strategy that would be ultimately effective in Afghanistan. Instead of using drones to bomb people, if we were sending HD televisions, water, and vacuum cleaners, you’d see that region become much more amenable to America. At the very least, sending people things from the ATL holiday gift guide (sponsored) is better than sending them warheads.

But the thought of Amazon drones dropping consumerism on us from the sky should be pretty terrifying to Americans. How would that even work? I live in an apartment building… the humans often don’t know where to leave my packages. Watching Bezos, all I could think of was angry robots shooting copies of the Washington Post at me through my window while I read news on the internet.

Luckily, the Amazon plan is currently illegal. And it’s likely to stay completely unworkable…

The Guardian has a great report this morning that every lawyer who watched the bozo drone proclamation last night thought about. Commercial drones flying through American airspace is not something that is currently legal:

At present, flying drones of this sort for commercial use would be illegal in the US. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which regulates this area, intends to make commercial drones legally viable and workable by 2015, but this deadline is all-but impossible: managing the skies with this much low-level traffic is a problem people are nowhere near solving. Opening up crowded urban areas full of terror targets to large numbers of flying platforms is always going to be packed with conflicting interests and difficulties. And all this has come before the first lawsuit caused after someone is injured by a faulty drone (or that one your neighbour shot), crashing down to earth.

It’s not just about making commercial drones legal, it’s about working out the regulations and responsibilities associated with drone traffic. And before Republicans get the vapors because we’re talking about “regulation,” again, just ask some Afghans about the problems associated with “drones” carrying “packages” and “dropping them” over heavily populated areas. Even as precision technology makes Bezos’s dream more of a reality… that precision technology is terrifying and could be used for so much evil.

Remember kids, “making it rain” all in the name of shopping is kind of a bad thing. In low-tech news, did you hear what happened at the Mall of America on Friday? From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (gavel bang: ABA Journal):

As a trio of singers performed “Let it Snow,” at the Mall of America rotunda, a 29-year-old Apple Valley man made it “snow money” by flinging $1,000 in dollar bills over the third-floor railing onto the crowd below, saying he wanted to spread holiday cheer.

But the seemingly charitable act Friday afternoon landed Serge Vorobyov a disorderly conduct ticket from Bloomington police, who said it was just a publicity stunt that Vorobyov hoped would persuade his estranged girlfriend to get back together.

Nobody was hurt during the “make it snow” stunt. And I’m sure Amazon employees, especially the in-house lawyers, are thinking about this from the standpoint of nobody being hurt by their drones.

But of course, people will get hurt. Even once FAA regulations allow for this sort of thing, can you just imagine the lawsuits from those injured by faulty drone drops, lost packages, and inevitably malfunctioning technology? Christ, what’s going to happen when it rains, or snows, or somebody sets off an EMP charge? There’s going to be an army of tort lawyers with their hands in Amazon’s deep pockets.

In any event, people, happy shopping. Who would have thought that the law would be one of our last lines of defenses against the robot onslaught?

Amazon to deliver by drone? Don’t believe the hype [The Guardian]
Man cited after tossing $1,000 in dollar bills into Mall of America rotunda [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Man who flung cash into crowd at Mall of America is cited for disorderly conduct [ABA Journal]

Earlier: The 2013 ATL Holiday Gift Guide (sponsored)

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