Development of drone laws

April 19, 2016 |

Slate magazine described 2015 as the year of the drone. It was probably being somewhat premature.  The limit to drone use and capability has not been reached.

The use of drones still raises issues and strong opposition with “humans on drones” violence as reported in FAA Confirms It’s a Federal Crime to Shoot Down a Drone and litigation against the use of drones, as reported in Man Claims Drone Photos on Border Unconstitutionally Target Mexicans, Files Lawsuit Against Texas.

In the United States of America the states are taking the lead to deal with the practical and legal issues associated with the use of drones.  Oregon has recently legislated against drone surveillance with Governor Kate Brown signed HB 4066. Now there will be criminal offences associated with recording by means of photos, motion picture video, or other visual recording through the use of a drone which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.  Any public body that operates a drone must now have policies for the “use, storage, accessing, sharing and retention of data” resulting from the operation of drones. This adds to existing Oregon law which provides for civil action against drone operators who fly over private property after receiving notice from the property owner.

In Australia, at the Federal level the focus has been flight safety and air regulation by CASA.  As of 29 September 2016  CASA will be relaxing the rules regarding drones weighing less than 2kgs.  They will not require approval for commercial work.  It is an inadequate response to this development technology.  None of this deals with the privacy intrusive behaviour of drones or other nuisance issues which come into play through the misuse of the technology.  Australian states can regulate on the privacy impacts through the use of drones but choose not to.  They can regulate on the surveillance uses of drones but choose not to, except to the extent that the state based surveillance laws applies.  That doesn’t mean there have not been calls for such activities such as a call for better drone practice.

The US Federal Government requires the registration of drones.  The registration has begun though as the article  325,000 People Have Now Registered Drones With the FAA. That’s Not Enough makes clear it is far from a success so far.  In the UK drones are causing havoc at Heathrow with an incident where a drone collided with a British Airways plane.

Australia Post is going the way of Amazon and looking at drone delivery for parcels as reported in Australia Post tests drones for parcel delivery.

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