Policy

Mass. Senator Wants to Establish Some Drone Privacy Rules

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Wild West in the sky with robots instead of cowboys.

Domestic drone surveillance is an inevitability, and while certain uses of the machines are unlikely to cause any significant issues, there's still the matter of what law enforcement will (and does) do with them. One senator wants to establish some rules. Courtesy of the National Journal:

As the Federal Aviation Administration assesses whether commercial skies are ready for commercial, nonmilitary drones in the near future, some lawmakers are attempting to capitalize on the data-surveillance debate by pushing for preemptive privacy regulations on the still-grounded industry.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced a bill this week that would require law-enforcement agencies to earn a warrant before conducting any surveillance via any unmanned aircraft. The bill would also make drone applications include statements detailing the purpose and location of any drone and how any data collected is intended to be used; it would also require the FAA to maintain a website listing licenses issued and other information about approved drones.

"Before countless commercial drones begin to fly overhead, we must ground their operation in strong rules to protect privacy and promote transparency," Markey said in a statement. "This legislation requires transparency on the domestic use of drones and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot and will not be used to spy on Americans."

Drone lobbyists worry that they're going to be singled out and want the rules to be "technology-neutral," which, you know, might not be a bad idea.

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