Adding in several amendments from Senator Markey about drone privacy and plane safety, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed legislation to keep the FAA running until September 2017. The FAA’s authorization is up at the end of this month, and Congress is rushing to get legislation in place to extend their authority. While the House FAA Reauthorization package – the AIRR Act – was tabled due to a number of controversial issues, the Senate has created a more moderate proposal for consideration.
The Senate committee’s legislation markup meeting included some heated discussion about drone delivery and drone privacy. Several amendments from Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) made it into the final piece, including amendments addressing drone privacy, a hot topic at the federal and state level as legislators rush to assuage the fears of their constituents.
“I thank Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for their leadership crafting a bipartisan bill and for working with me to include many of my amendments,” said Senator Markey. “As more and more drones take flight in our skies, the need to protect Americans’ privacy is paramount. I am pleased that we are taking important steps in this bill to enact 21st century rules of the sky, including promoting transparency of drone operations.”
Markey introduced these amendments relative to drone privacy:
- Amendment 9 requires drone operators to disclose if they collect personally identifiable information (PII) about an individual. This includes photography that could identify someone through the use of facial recognition software. Drone operators must disclose how the personal data will be used, including for advertising or marketing purposes, and establish when the data will be destroyed.
- Amendment 5 requires the database of commercial and government drones to be “easily searchable” and easy to find on the FAA website.
- Amendment 11 would make the searchable database publicly available at least through September 30, 2017, when the bill expires.
- Amendment 6 would give access to information about the location, purpose, and technical capabilities -for example, license plate readers -of government drones.
- Amendment 12 would require privacy research at drone test sites.
- Amendment 13 would improve the data minimization requirements in the bill.