Northern Star




Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Amazon’s drone delivery is too risky

(Courtesy of Getty Images)
A delivery drone hovers mid-air with green trees and brown buildings behind it. Opinion Columnist Alberto Briones believes Amazon’s drone delivery service comes with too many risks. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

Amazon Pharmacy‘s drone medication delivery service may prove risky. Drone delivery raises privacy concerns, as it uses sensors and cameras to make deliveries, making customers feel watched in their homes. 

Amazon’s drone delivery service now delivers medical prescriptions to customers in College Station, Texas, within 60 minutes at no extra cost. Amazon Pharmacy customers can choose free drone delivery at checkout. College Station residents who choose drone delivery will have access to over 500 medications for flu, asthma and pneumonia, according to Amazon.

Accurate delivery requires constant gathering of data, which implies that information on people, their places of residence and their surrounding environment would be recorded and monitored on a regular basis.

There is also the possibility of drones malfunctioning. Drones, like other forms of technology, are susceptible to experiencing technical issues. These problems may lead to accidents, such as drones crashing into people, buildings or even other drones. 

Accidents between drones could result in disruption of deliveries.

Weather conditions could also affect the drones, reducing their visibility, affecting their performance and causing potential damage to the drone and surroundings.

Moreover, the use of drones for deliveries could also create noise pollution. Drones doing frequent deliveries, especially in residential areas, can disrupt the quietness and well-being of neighborhoods. This can create negative effects on people like disturbing their sleep, hindering their concentration when working from home or disrupting their daily routine.

Theft is another concern to be addressed. Since these drones will be flying low and carrying prescription medicine, they can be easy targets for interception or theft. Not only could customers not receive their medication, but it is also possible that their personal and private information will be obtained.

Porch pirates are a concern for online shoppers, especially since 20.8% of sales in 2023 were made online, according to Forbes. A woman from Florida claims that two men stole a package with medication from her porch valued at $20,000 at around 6 a.m., according to First Coast News.

A survey by Safewise reported that around 260 million packages disappeared from porches across the U.S. in 2022. While Amazon promises fast and secure deliveries with the use of their drones, there is the possibility people will interfere  with the drones, by attempting to shoot them down on-sight or follow their path until they drop the delivery for easy pick-up.

The networks that drones operate on also could be targeted by hackers and cybercriminals. The data collected by the drones, which include individuals and residencies, could potentially endanger users.

Amazon Web Services has had several security violations over the years. The last Amazon data breach occurred Oct. 2021, when a hacker leaked data from Twitch, a streaming platform owned by Amazon. A ransomware organization claimed to have stolen Amazon Ring data in March 2023, but no evidence was found, according to Vice.

These negative aspects of drone delivery need to be considered, despite the advantages of faster access to medications. Maintaining healthcare services that are adequate for all patients will require a delicate balance between keeping up with advances in technology and expecting future challenges.

Should Amazon continue with their plans to expand on their drone delivery services, they will have to address the customer’s concerns with security, safety and privacy. Amazon will also have to face the social and environmental consequences of drone delivery, like disturbing the local wildlife and disrupting communities.

More to Discover