Tuesday, August 5, 2014


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Schumer seeks rules for drones

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY) called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Commerce Department to quickly develop and release privacy rules and guidelines for the use of small unmanned aircraft systems by the end of 2014. Schumer took particular concern with the use of drones among private investigators spying on unaware parties, use by drug dealers to deliver illegal drugs and serious public safety concerns, like the recent incident when a drone interfered with an NYPD helicopter.

Drones are used by the U.S. to aid in military operations and are increasingly being used for commercial purposes. Schumer said that while there are innumerable benefits to this technology, there are also consequences that create privacy and safety concerns for the general public, particularly given that the FAA has not yet released clear rules for the definition and appropriate use of commercial and hobby drones.

Schumer said that the federal government’s lack of clear rules on the use of small, non-military drones has led to confusion, abuses and dangerous situations, particularly in urban areas like New York City; in July, a drone nearly collided with an NYPD helicopter, drones have been used to spy on individuals by Private Investigators, and it is reported that drones are being used by drug dealers.  The senator is urging the FAA to expedite their rule-making on small drones and to clearly distinguish between hobby and commercial drones, and the legal and illegal uses for each.

Schumer is also pushing the soon-to-be empowered Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), under an anticipated executive order by President Obama, to prioritize privacy in their guidelines for drone data collection and storage.

“New York City has become the wild, wild west for commercial and hobby drones, and until clear, smart regulations are put in place by the federal government, they will continue to threaten the privacy and safety of New Yorkers,” said Schumer.  “I’m urging the FAA and the soon-to-be empowered Commerce Department to develop and release much-needed regulations about small drones, along with specific privacy protections, by the end of this year, which must include a ban on drones used by private investigators and drug dealers. It is also critical there be strict penalties for the dangerous use of hobby drones, like the recent near-miss of an NYPD helicopter and one of these devices in July. There is no time to waste in getting clear rules on the books so that this technology can continue to create important advancements without threatening our quality of life and safety.”