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New CRS Reports on Drones

By davidswanson - Posted on 31 January 2013

The Congressional Research Service has released two new reports on drones.  The first is called

Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues

Some highlights:

Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, P.L. 112-95, Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), sometimes referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, into the national airspace system by September 2015. Although the text of this act places safety as a predominant concern, it fails to establish how the FAA should resolve significant, and up to this point, largely unanswered legal questions....

... Perhaps the most contentious issue concerning the introduction of drones into U.S. airspace is the threat that this technology will be used to spy on American citizens. With the ability to house high-powered cameras, infrared sensors, facial recognition technology, and license plate readers, some argue that drones present a substantial privacy risk.66 Undoubtedly, the government’s use of drones for domestic surveillance operations implicates the Fourth Amendment and other applicable laws.67 In like manner, privacy advocates have warned that private actors might use drones in a way that could infringe upon fundamental privacy rights.6 ...

...If Congress chooses to act, it could create privacy protections to protect individuals from intrusive drone surveillance conducted by private actors. Such proposals would be considered in the context of the First Amendment rights to gather and receive news. Several bills were introduced in the 112th Congress that would regulate the private use of drones. Additionally, there are other measures Congress could adopt. ...

... Additionally, Congress could create a cause of action for surveillance conducted by drones similar to the intrusion upon seclusion tort provided under Restatement § 652B.151 ...

... Congress could also create a privacy statute tailored to drone use similar to the anti-voyeurism statutes, or “Peeping Tom” laws, enacted in many states.154 These laws prohibit persons from surreptitiously filming others in various circumstances and places.155 ...

...There may be instances where a landowner is entitled to protect his property from intrusion by a drone.  ...

... The legal issues discussed in this report will likely remain unresolved until the civilian use of drones becomes more widespread. ...

OR, OF COURSE, until people and localities and states speak up.

The other report is

Summary: There's gold in them thar drones.


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