Drone Privacy Legislation Introduced in US Congress

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As more and more drones take to the skies members of Congress are concerned that the current FAA regulations don’t adequately address the privacy concerns raised by drones. Earlier this week, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass introduced the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act to create a framework for privacy protection from drones. Since drones are basically data collection platforms the proposed bill takes aim at restricting how data is collected and used.

Here is a quick summary of the main points of the bill:

  • Law enforcement would need to get a warrant to use drones (to collected data).
  • The FAA would only be able to approve drones licenses to operators who provide specific details about what kind of data they will collect and if the data will be sold to 3rd parties.
  • It would create a pubic disclosure requirements for drone operations including: location, timing, and ownership of drone.
  • The FAA would have to provide drone licensing information online as well as a database of those that have breached FAA regulations.

“The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act requires transparency in domestic drone use and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot and will not be used to spy on Americans,” Sen. Markey said. Rep. Welch and Sen. Markey introduced similar legislation in 2015, but failed to gain any traction at the time.

It will be interesting to see if the bill can gain any traction this time and if the FAA believes it will be useful in its plan to integrate drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

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