Remote Identification for Drones Among Proposed Initiatives by FAA

Officials from the FAA are pushing for stricter legislation to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s). Among the regulations being looked at include a national database for electronic identification of all drones.

Targeting the Careless and the Criminal

The new security initiatives are meant to bring order into the increasingly popular drone industry, especially the consumer drones whose sales have soared in recent years. According to one official, this database will help the government deal with the criminal, careless and clueless users of drones.

The proposed initiatives include electronic identification for all drones which would make them easily identifiable from a distance. The remote identification will give government institutions the ability to identify the drones from afar and make the distinction between harmless flights and potential aerial threats. It would also make it possible to enforce the law once any security threat is detected as the drone would be easy to pin down to an individual.  The proposed initiatives also seek to grant the Homeland Security department and the Department of Justice the legal mandate to bring down, disrupt or track any drone that is assessed to pose a security threat.

While the decision on which drones are subject to remote identification had failed to be agreed upon last year by the different departments involved, the consensus was reached that it would be in the interest of public safety to have a system in place. After a joint meeting in Baltimore, officials from the FAA stated that identifying who is flying a drone is crucial to ensure that the benefits of the UAVs were used safely and properly. The anonymity of operations in the drone industry was making it difficult for the FAA to maintain a safe airspace and was a hindrance towards the expansion of the industry, a top ranking FAA official said.

The Implications on Privacy

While the intent behind the proposed initiative is good, there is concern among many that this will be a huge infringement on people’s privacy. Drones are protected by the law that prohibits illegal wiretapping just like the laws that are used to protect users privacy while they are on their phone or computer.  This makes it difficult for public safety authorities to take over the controls or to track any drone that they perceive to be posing a significant threat to the security of others.

The government has however been working to amend these laws and to put in place regulations that enable them to monitor drones. The FAA plans to establish the remote identification to ensure that ignorance from novice drone users or ill intent from malicious people doesn’t set the country back after years of making progress towards embracing drones and opening up the US skies to more technology.

The drone industry has been a key focus of Trump’s administration and this is just one of the many steps the government has taken to harness the industry. The White House has issued a statement stating that government officials will work with Congress and industry experts to fine-tune the proposal.

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