Sen. Markey: We Need Protection Before Commercial Drones Take Off

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The prospect of commercial drones soon taking to the skies has led Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey to propose an amendment that would require privacy protections in the drone approval process, Roll Call reports.

The applicant would have to provide a data collection statement to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which would list in detail the drone’s regular location routes, whether or not it would collect the information of individuals, how long that information would be retained, and whether it would be sold.

“We need to build in strong personal privacy protections and public transparency measures before commercial drones take off, which is exactly what my amendment will do,” Markey said. “This will allow the drone marketplace to evolve and mature, while at the same time we protect people’s privacy.”

The FAA would also be required to create a public website, in which all the approved drone licenses are listed.

Although senators on both sides of the aisle have supported the need for privacy regulations, but Ben Gielow, general counsel of the Association Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, stated that, “The FAA is not a privacy agency. They are a safety agency. They should be focused on writing safety rules.”

Gielow added that the Markey regulation is essentially redundant, as existing state and local laws already prohibit invading a person’s privacy.

In the meantime, Congress has required the FAA to prepare for increased drone deployment in 2015, and Amazon especially is pushing for the use of drones for delivery purposes.

The FAA is concerned about the potential explosion of drone usage, with one of the more interesting and recent cases being a Las Vegas club, which provided bottle service via drone.

As a result, the FAA has shuttered the drone operations of an internet beer delivery company and the Washington Nationals baseball team.

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