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Sens. Thune, Markey Seek Drone-Tracking Rules ASAP

Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) say that recent drone sightings in "safety-sensitive" areas--like the Boston Red Sox' Fenway Park, says Markey--have put an exclamation point on their call for FAA to publish a proposed rule to let the public know who is flying where.

Drones are used for, among many other things, TV and movie production, as well as live sports and news.

In a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the senators cite various sightings, including during the baseball game and one at Newark Liberty Airport that led to flights being halted.

Sen. John Thune

Sen. John Thune

They point out that Congress directed the FAA to come up with drone-identification standards in 2016, with a two-year deadline that passed nearly a year ago, and that the legislation is key to insuring privacy as well as safety.

The senators say the rules would allow the public, the FAA, law enforcement, and others to track drones and identify their operators.

Sen. Ed Markey

Sen. Ed Markey

Related: Sen, Markey Says Privacy Regs Should Precede Drone Rules

The FCC proposed to loosen its commercial drone rules to allow commercial drones to be flown over people and at night "under certain conditions." Markey said identification rules should be a linchpin of any rule allowing drone flights over people.

A number of TV and movie producers have been granted waivers of general drone flight rules.

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.