Court Denies Challenge to Lack of Drone Privacy Rules

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has dismissed a petition by the Electronic Privacy Information Center challenging an FAA decision not to promulgate drone privacy rules as part of its implementation of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.

EPIC had challenged the FAA's dismissal of its petition for rulemaking and the lack of privacy rules in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) the FAA did issue for integrating drones safely into U.S. airspace, as the act directed it do as a first step.

That NPRM was about safety, and the FAA said in denying the EPIC petition that while it might have merit, it was not on point in terms of safety and could not be addressed "because of other priorities and resource constraints."

The FAA did say that it would keep the comments on file potentially for a future rulemaking.

The court denied EPIC's challenge to the petition denial as too late because EPIC did not file until past the deadline. As to the FCC not having privacy rules in the NPRM about safety, the court said that was premature because, per clear precedent, the court could not review a notice of proposed rulemaking, but must instead wait until a final rule has been approved.

Privacy rules could affect TV news and entertainment production given the rise of drones as a tool in both.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.