Journalists Get Carve-Out From Drone Best Practices

WASHINGTON — Stakeholders have come up with voluntary best practices for data collection by commercial and private drone users, but journalists have received a carve-out from those guidelines.

The stakeholders involved cited the reliance of the public on an independent press and the protections of the First Amendment. Those stakeholders developed the voluntary regime under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA), part of the Commerce Department.

"For this reason, these best practices do not apply to newsgatherers and news-reporting organizations,” the guidelines said. “Newsgatherers and news-reporting organizations may use UAS in the same manner as any other comparable technology to capture, store, retain and use data or images in public spaces.

“Newsgatherers and news-eporting organizations should operate under the ethics rules and standards of their organization, and according to existing federal and state laws,” the guidelines continued.

Among the practices that apply to other users — including TV and film producers that are increasingly using the technology — include making reasonable efforts to provide prior notice; limiting the collection, use and storage of data covered by the guidelines; protecting the collected data; and monitoring and complying with state laws.

“I want to congratulate the hard-working stakeholders who reached consensus on privacy, transparency and accountability best practices related to private and commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said. “As the president recognized when he directed NTIA to convene this process, these best practices can help promote Commerce priorities by allowing the industry to grow, develop and innovate while helping to build consumer trust.”

The best practices are the latest in a series produced by NTIA-curated stakeholder meetings in an effort to put some meat on the bones of the Obama administration’s Privacy Bill of Rights.

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.