A slew of proposed drone legislation in Hawaii has prompted the Small UAV Coalition, a drone industry advocacy group, to publish a statement in protest of the largely redundant proposals. The Hawaiian legislature has reviewed almost 20 bills related to drones in the last few months, on subjects ranging from the use of drones by law enforcement to privacy violations and “peeping tom” provisions.
The bills range from the vague to the embarrassingly specific: while one proposal calls for criminal penalties for an operator using a drone for any type of “surveillance” over private property, revisions to HI SB296 gets to the heart of the matter and prohibits an operator from using a drone to photograph or to conduct surveillance “on another person in a stage of undress or sexual activity.”
While the Small UAV Coalition doesn’t object to such obvious restrictions in principal, they point out that acting as a peeping tom is already illegal, and creating unnecessary local drone regulations may cause a problem when the FAA finally announces a federal regulatory framework for drones.
“Many proposed laws, while good-intentioned, would be preempted by Federal law if adopted as currently written because they attempt to prohibit UAV operations in Federally-controlled airspace that are now and will be in the future subject to pervasive FAA regulations,” says the statement. “The current and forthcoming Federal regulatory framework is and will be sufficient to address many of the concerns underlying proposed state UAS laws.”
The Coalition points out that varying and confusing layers of regulations can only hinder the development of the industry; an industry with the potential to create jobs as well as allow for significant public benefit. Excess regulations do not only harm the drone industry, the statement points out: “Conflicting or duplicative Federal and State laws and regulations are also a disservice to citizens and consumers who aim to operate within the confines of the law…The FAA has sufficient enforcement authority and resources to take action against UAS operators and a person should not be subject to two enforcement schemes for the same conduct.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.