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Markey, Welch Push for Drone Rules

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) want President Barack Obama to make sure the government puts some teeth in commercial drone privacy protections.

In a letter to the president Thursday, they said that while they applaud his plans to issue an executive order on drone privacy, as was reported in Politico, strong, enforceable rules, rather than voluntary best practices, were needed.

As B&C pointed out in its July 14 cover story, Hollywood and news organizations are increasingly looking to the heavens, anticipating being able to use drones to get killer shots.

The administration has been taking the voluntary best practices route to try to enforce a variety of privacy protections associated with its online privacy bill of rights, to mixed reviews, but Markey and Welch indicated more than facilitating voluntary standards is needed when it comes to drones.

The pair are the co-authors of the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act, which includes the kind of strong, enforceable rules they say are needed.

They say that any final plan of action on drones and privacy should require drone operators to disclose what data they are collecting, how it is being used, whether it will be sold and when it will be deleted, all mirroring protections for online data collection. They also want any plan to mandate a warrant before using drone info except in emergencies, and a public posting of when and where drones will be operating.

John Eggerton
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.