Privacy advocates upset over FAA drone regulations, citizen takes action

The FAA previously told the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that privacy issues are beyond the scope of the agency's rulemaking.
The FAA previously told the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that privacy issues are beyond the scope of the agency's rulemaking.

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) small unmanned aircraft system rule went into effect Aug. 29 broadly authorizing commercial drone operations but noticeably lacking privacy specific standards, still some citizens managed to take the security of their airspace into their own hands.

The FAA previously told the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that privacy issues "are beyond the scope of this rulemaking," and the privacy advocacy group has been petitioning for the FAA to include privacy standards since 2012 when Congress “ordered the FAA to issue "comprehensive" rules for drone use,” according an EPIC post detailing the group's side of the dispute. Epic filed a Petition For Review of the case on Aug. 22.

While not comprehensive, the FAA's current rule set is seen as providing a basic layer of protection against unfair or deceptive acts or practices, peeping Toms, trespassing and nuisance, according to an Aug 30. International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) post.

Despite the lack of clarity, some citizens are taking matters into their own hands by policing their own airspace.

A few weeks ago, a 65-year-old woman in rural West Virginia shot a drone out of the sky near actor Robert Duvall's property, according to the the Fauquier Times.

“I was cleaning my .410 gauge and .20 gauge on my front porch when I noticed them,” Jennifer Youngman described the mid-June incident to the publication.

“They were going a little too fast and they went over my airspace. I had my .20-gauge there, so I put two 7-1/2 birdshot shells in it, and there you are.”

No legal action reportedly was taken against Youngman. 

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