Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Drone Law

What happens when a drone gets in the way of a crop-dusting airplane, as recently happened in Eastern Washington? Are there rules? KUOW reports FAA Takes Light Hand In Enforcing Flight Rules For Drones (Nov. 18, 2014).

A recent commercial use of drones was right here in the law library. A photographer used a small quad copter to go up into the skylight "crystals":

2 snapshots of small red drone in library
Drone carries camera from L2 up into the skylight and back. (Photos by Mary Whisner)

More on drone policy after the jump.

Here's the scoop on government, commercial, and hobby drones from the FAA: Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

That won't be the final word. If you type "drone" into the search box at, you'll find a number of bills introduced in the last two years, addressing the use of drones by, variously, the CIA, the military, law enforcement, commercial entities, and hobbyists. The bills include:
  • the Drone Reform Act (H.R. 5091)
  • the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2013 (S. 1639, H.R. 2868, H.R. 1262
  • the DRONES Act (Designating Requirements On Notification of Executive-ordered Strikes Act of 2013) (H.R. 2438)
  • the Drones Accountability Act (H.R. 2183)
  • A bill to prohibit the use of drones to kill citizens of the United States within the United States (S. 505)
  • NADA (No Armed Drones Act) (H.R. 1083)
  • Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013 (S. 1016, H.R. 972)
  • Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act of 2013 (S. 1057)
  • Prof. Ryan Calo
  • Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 5478, S. 2904)
Surely the newly elected Congress will also be interested in these issues.

Prof. Ryan Calo has been thinking about the law and new technology for years. See The Drone as Privacy Catalyst, 64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 29 (2011), as well as news stories where he's been quoted.

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