It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s a surveillance drone? The signing of the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 will likely open the skies to drones of all kinds. Businesses and individuals alike will be able to have drones at their disposal in the near future. Currently, more than 300 temporary licenses have been issued.
The statute deals with the details of the drones, such as their size and the altitude at which they can fly, but it fails to address privacy issues.
The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) issued a statement recently about the lack of privacy and liberty afforded by the legislation. Harley Geiger, speaking on behalf of CDT, wrote in a statement released on March 27: “The FAA is ready to start issuing a lot more drone licenses, now that Congress passed a law requiring the agency to open the skies to government and private drones of all kinds within a few years. Yet nothing in the drone law requires the FAA to create any privacy protections.”
Geiger has said the drones could be equipped with facial recognition cameras and license plate detectors. He approves of the drones as long as they stay within the realm of law enforcement. However, he notes that that they could easily be used to survey the public.