The FAA has recently announced that drone owners will now be forced to register their devices with the government, and of course, pay a fee as well. The move has drawn criticism from hobbyists and drone owners throughout the country, who see the registration policy as a violation of their privacy and civil rights.
This week, the privacy concerns surrounding drone registration has grown with the FAA's admission that the registration information would be available to anyone with an internet connection. This means that addresses and other sensitive personal information of drone owners would be publicly listed, creating an obvious safety hazard. The FAA says that the names and addresses would not be searchable, however, if you have the number to someone's drone, you can easily pull up their address and other personal information.
When the registration was first announced, the FAA claimed that the information would be private, stating in their FAQ that, "The FAA will be able to see the data that you enter. The FAA is using a contractor to maintain the website and database, and that contractor also will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data."
However, a line of fine print in the DOT filing admitted that "all records maintained by the FAA in connection with aircraft registered are included in the Aircraft Registry and made available to the public, except email address and credit card information submitted under part 48 [the new model aircraft registry]."
The DOT filing also said that searching drone numbers would pull up the rest of the registration information. This way, if a drone was lost and ended up on someone's property, they would be able to return it to the rightful owner. However, many have pointed out that this system is extremely vulnerable to corruption, and can actually pose a danger for the drone owner.
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A journalist with Forbes emailed the FAA for clarification on the change of policy and they responded with a very evasive answer.
"All records maintained by the FAA in connection with aircraft registered are included in the Aircraft Registry and made available to the public, except email address and credit card information submitted under part 48 [the new model aircraft registry]."
When asked specifically about the DOT filing the FAA spokesperson refused to comment. However, their answer was, at least, clear in the sense that registration numbers will be searchable, making addresses and other sensitive information public.
Drone registry will officially open on December 21st, 2015, and penalties for those who refuse to register will begin on February 19th, 2016.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics announced recently that they will be fighting the registrations, but this seems to be a move that the government is dead set on completing.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.