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unmanned aircraft

Eric Schmidt, Google chief and one of the world’s influential figures in digital technology, has called for civilian drone tech to be regulated, warning about privacy and security concerns.

Cheap miniature versions of the unmanned aircraft used by militaries could fall into the wrong hands, Eric Schmidt told The Guardian newspaper.

Quarrelling neighbors, the Google chief suggested, might end up buzzing each other with private surveillance drones.

Eric Schmidt also warned of the risk of terrorists using the new technology.

He is believed to have close relations with President Barack Obama, whom he advises on matters of science and technology.

Eric Schmidt has called for civilian drone technology to be regulated, warning about privacy and security concerns

Eric Schmidt has called for civilian drone technology to be regulated, warning about privacy and security concerns

“You’re having a dispute with your neighbor,” he told The Guardian in an interview printed on Saturday.

“How would you feel if your neighbor went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their backyard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?”

Warning of mini-drones’ potential as a terrorist weapon, he said: “I’m not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratize the ability to fight war to every single human being.”

“It’s got to be regulated… It’s one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they’re doing, but have other people doing it… it’s not going to happen.”

Small drones, such as flying cameras, are already available worldwide, and non-military surveillance were recently introduced to track poachers in the remote Indian state of Assam.

The US and Israel have led the way in recent years in using drones as weapons of war as well as for surveillance.

America’s Federal Aviation Administration is currently exploring how commercial drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, can be safely introduced into US airspace.

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Israel Air Force has shot down a small unmanned aircraft after it entered the south of the country, the military has said.

Troops are searching for remains of the aircraft in the north of the Negev desert. It is not clear where it came from.

Local media quoted officials as saying the aircraft flew in from the west, but not from the Gaza Strip.

It was intercepted at around 10:00 local time.

The Israeli Defence Force said it was examining the aircraft’s flight path and whether it was being used for reconnaissance or for a potential act of terrorism.

However, Israeli radio quoted a military spokesman as saying it was not carrying explosives.

Correspondents say several small drones have penetrated Israeli territory in the past, but from the north.

On at least three occasions unmanned aircraft operated by the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah were detected.

An Israeli navy ship was damaged by an explosive drone in July 2006.

Two others flew over part of northern Israel in 2004 and 2005 without being intercepted.