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senate Bill S. 635

No More Snooping: Regulating Domestic Drone Use

Argument in favor

Protects the privacy of U.S. citizens from a powerful surveillance technology that is increasingly accessible to private individuals.

BTSundra's Opinion
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04/02/2016
As long as it doesn't get to the point where you need a permit to own something as simple as a slingshot (like in my home state of New Jersey), regulation of this to protect privacy is fine.
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Nicholas's Opinion
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09/20/2015
Comprehensive laws for operating drones is simply common sense. This can be done in a way that both enables hobbyists and commercial enterprises to fly their drones and everyone else to have their privacy concerns protected. We have road rules and we now need low altitude airspace rules.
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Curmudgeon's Opinion
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07/18/2015
Permission to ease up on use these surveillance devices can be considered slowly and only with respect to emergence of countermeasures to their use, whose technologically will develop exactly the way offensive and defensive weaponry has always progressed.
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Argument opposed

Curbs the enthusiasm of commercial operators with severe restrictions, ruining a new potential industry that has a lot to offer.

John's Opinion
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06/25/2015
Reduce red tape and regulations; don't increase them. Let the States and local governments decide on drone policy.
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Matt's Opinion
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04/15/2016
The resulting regulation will not be narrowly tailored to fit it's original intention.
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Marvin's Opinion
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06/18/2015
Drones should not be regulated as long as they are not used to spy at sensitive locations or at private homes.
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What is Senate Bill S. 635?

This bill would call for an examination of the privacy issues that might arise if unmanned aircrafts (i.e. drones) are integrated into the national airspace system.

This assessment would be directed by the Secretary of Transportation to ensure that privacy rights aren’t violated. Subsequently, a detailed set of regulations would be created for the operation of drone systems in civil airspace by private and public operators. Broadly speaking, S. 1639 would do the following:

  • Outline the procedure for applying to operate a drone system.
  • Force operators to disclose the data they are collecting and how their drones are used.
  • Establish a set of privacy principles that drone operators must follow.
  • Prohibit government agencies from requesting data collected by drone systems, except in emergencies (court warrants, permission through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or an imminent threat to a specific entity).
  • Privacy terms would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Create a publicly-accessible website to monitor where and when drones are flying.
  • Authorizes any state to pursue legal action against any entity that has negatively affected state residents by violating privacy principles.
  • Requires the FAA to revoke the licenses of drone system operators who violate any of the terms laid out in this bill.

Impact

Commercial drone system operators, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the FTC, the Department of Transportation, U.S. citizens.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 635

The CBO doesn’t have a cost estimate for the bill at this time.

More Information

In Depth

Drones are a rapidly growing industry in the U.S. and abroad. The FAA has already granted over 400 drone certifications to operators. In the next five years, the agency estimates that up to 7,500 commercial drones could be flying around the U.S.. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International claims that in the next 10 years the U.S. drone industry will be worth $80 billion.

Today, there are few existing restrictions on the use of drones in American airspace. Privacy advocates have hailed this legislation as a sorely-needed response to that problem — albeit, possibly not strong enough. The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement:

“It is vital that we have comprehensive rules in place so that new technologies like drones are used in a responsible manner by both companies and the government before they blanket the skies.”
In support of drones, Robert Holly of Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting notes:
"It should not be all right for a police department to send a drone without a warrant to track the whereabouts of a suspect. Yet, it should be all right for an individual to fly a drone over the New York skyline without first gaining permission from everybody in New York City. Or, it should be legal for a newsroom to deliver a traffic report via drone without first gaining permission from everybody driving on the highway.
...

'In the private sector, we’re trying to say, "Hey, you know there’s this really important free speech right to take photos with drones that’s expressive activity,"' said Bohm. 'Let’s wait and see what the abuses are before legislating in that area.'"

Media

Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) Press Release

Law 360

RT

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons Alexander Glinz)

AKA

Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to amend the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to provide guidance and limitations regarding the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into United States airspace, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
      Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
    IntroducedMarch 3rd, 2015
    Reduce red tape and regulations; don't increase them. Let the States and local governments decide on drone policy.
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    As long as it doesn't get to the point where you need a permit to own something as simple as a slingshot (like in my home state of New Jersey), regulation of this to protect privacy is fine.
    Like (4)
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    Comprehensive laws for operating drones is simply common sense. This can be done in a way that both enables hobbyists and commercial enterprises to fly their drones and everyone else to have their privacy concerns protected. We have road rules and we now need low altitude airspace rules.
    Like (3)
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    The resulting regulation will not be narrowly tailored to fit it's original intention.
    Like (3)
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    Permission to ease up on use these surveillance devices can be considered slowly and only with respect to emergence of countermeasures to their use, whose technologically will develop exactly the way offensive and defensive weaponry has always progressed.
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    More so than privacy, when one of these quadcopters brings down a manned aircraft that was either flying at 10,000 ft or taking video near an airport; then it'll be too late.
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    Only regulation needed is to ban drones altogether.
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    Protects the privacy of U.S. citizens from a powerful surveillance technology that is increasingly accessible to private individuals.
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    Drones can be dangerous falling objects and have even killed people. Some have used them to be voyeurs. In our technology crazed world, enough is enough
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    Drones should not be regulated as long as they are not used to spy at sensitive locations or at private homes.
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    Stricter regulation is necessary, however, it appears this Pandoras Box has been opened.
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    This bill is taking away more than just drone it would also limit camera phones
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    I don't want a drone able to spy on me available to a private citizen and never the Government should only be able to use it on other countries
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    Get your snooping backsides out of my back yard.
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    We should require a warrant for any government associated surveillance. I'm not sure how this is currently managed for police helicopters, but I'm sure similar sensible regulation could be applied to drones. For private uses I think we already have civil case law that addresses what is and isn't an invasion of privacy when it comes to photography and video. Adding regulation specific to this industry will simply push investment in it outside the US.
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    The practical range of uses for UAV's is unexplored territory I think we should venture deeper into. If you've ever flown a UAV, you'd know that they make plenty of noise and make "spying on the neighbors" damn near impossible. I wouldn't be opposed to authorizing licenses to anyone who wants to pilot one though.
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    These rules are far too restrictive, and will hurt private innovation far more than they will discourage any snooping.
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    It's bad enough that "pundits" always want to be peeking in my bedroom to talk about their own morality. I imagine that a drone hovering outside my window peeking in would be even worse.
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    Some of these regulations I like, most I'm opposed to. As drones become more and more common, privacy issues do need.to be addressed, but this bill creates some onerous regulations that wouldcause more harm than good.
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    Nobody is using quadcopters to spy on people. It's weird for Washington when people don't do something that they could.
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