Markey's Drone Privacy Bill Could Resurface March 2 Week

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By Stephanie Beasley

Feb. 24 — Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) could soon reintroduce a bill that would require mandatory drone privacy protections, a congressional aide said.

The aide told Bloomberg BNA that the bill would be very similar to the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act Markey introduced last year that would require transparency for domestic drone use and the establishment of privacy protections that would prevent the aircraft from being used to spy on Americans. It could be reintroduced as soon as the week of March 2.

“There might be small changes but I don't think it's going to be significantly different,” the aide said.

Markey recently criticized a memorandum issued by President Barack Obama Feb. 15 that would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to launch a multi-stakeholder process for developing voluntary best practices for privacy, accountability and transparency regarding drone use. There should be enforceable privacy rules for commercial and governmental drone use, the lawmaker said.

The Federal Aviation Administration also Feb. 15 issued a draft rule for small unmanned aircraft systems. Although, the long-delayed rule was generally applauded by industry stakeholders some groups, like the Small UAV Coalition, said FAA's stipulations that drones remain within the operator's line of sight and reach altitudes no higher than 500 feet would continue to hinder delivery services and other commercial uses.

The FAA said it will consider issuing separate regulations for “micro” drones weighing 4.4 pounds or less.

Schumer Working With FAA

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the FAA and the Department of Commerce Feb. 19 requesting the FAA reconsider its “line of sight” provision and work with stakeholders to “strike a balance” in the final rule that would protect safety and privacy while still allow commercial use of drones.

FAA also should require all drones have geo-fencing technology that includes GPS, software and firmware. the lawmaker said. Schumer also called for the FAA and Department of Commerce to develop “stringent measures” to prevent drones from being used to spy.

The lawmaker said he has not yet decided if he will introduce legislation that could be included in the next FAA reauthorization bill. The current FAA law expires in September.

“We're going to see how their rules come out first, but I'm working with them closely,” Schumer told Bloomberg BNA. “In a few places they may have been a little too restrictive on the commercial drones, but we'll check it out.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Beasley in Washington sbeasley@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com

The text of Schumer's letter to FAA and the Department of Commerce is online at http://ow.ly/JBOIg.