The PJ Tatler

Bill Would Tightly Regulate Drone Use, Establish Public Info Database

A Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus today released a discussion draft of legislation he plans to introduce that would regulate drones flying over U.S. skies.

Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) “Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2012” would amend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act to include provisions on FAA rulemaking, data collection and minimization, enforcement, and disclosure.

For example, the FAA would not be able to issue a license for a drone unless the application includes a detailed description of what data will be collected, how it will be used, and what considerations are being implemented to protect Americans’ privacy.

All drone licenses would also have to be listed publicly online, including those data collection statements, times and locations of drone flights, and any security breaches committed by the drone owner.

“When it comes to privacy protections for the American people, drones are flying blind,” said Markey. “Drones are already flying in U.S. airspace – with thousands more to come – but with no privacy protections or transparency measures in place.”

The FAA estimates that by 2020, there could be 30,00 drones in use over American skies. The agency has already begun issuing limited drone certifications for government entities.

“Currently, there are no privacy protections or guidelines and no way for the public to know who is flying drones, where, and why. The time to implement privacy protections is now,” Markey added.

In April, Markey and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent the FAA a letter asking for details on how privacy would be ensured with the increasing use of drones. Markey’s office said they’ve yet to receive any response.