Just as the Drone Law world seemed to be calming down after the passage of 14 CFR 107 in 2016, the drone industry is about to get rocked again. Thanks to Senator Feinstein, our smooth sailing days of clear law are about to get clouded by regulatory ignorance due to this proposed bill. This horrible bill proposes the following:
- Take Airspace Authority away from FAA
- Give Airspace up to 200' AGL to local governments
- Provide Privacy protection
- Create new protocol to VET new drone pilots.
Senator Feinstein's goals seem pretty clear, she wants to hand over Federal Jurisdiction of drones to local and state governments. Currently, the FAA is the only government agency tasked with managing the safety of the national airspace. Up until August of 2016, even drone law was so fuzzy, it was difficult to understand the rules until we had solid law. Senator Feinstein's new bill would rip the authority away from the FAA, place the governance in the hands of the states..but only up until 200 feet.
In an attempt to look "pro-state rights," her intentions to further protect the public and privacy from drones, would be voided by the outcome of the bill.
Why wouldn't her bill work protect people from buzzing drones over their properties?
One word. Confusion. Imagine how many local, county and state governments exist today. Now imagine all of those people working together to get some coherent law on the books to allow commercial flights, hobby flights and yet protect privacy. The law was just simplified and put into terms that everyone could understand. By enacting a new bill, all of our progress with drone legislation would be nullified. When the law changes from county to county and becomes so cumbersome that most people don't even care.. you're going to have drones flying in all the places you do want them.
Why is the Senator's bill also bad? Well, because first of all drone pilots don't need to be told what times of the day are ok to fly. I'll fly according to conditions necessary to safety.. like the weather, wind, solar radiation, ferromagnetic interference and so on.. Drone pilots will not make decisions based on some Geriatric out-of-touch senator's wishes. Sorry...
Section 1 of the Bill States:
This essentially means, "lets take away the authority of the FAA, give it to the locals and O yeah you can't fly within 200 feet of any structure without permission."
Think about that, if i wanted to fly a Real Estate job for the local commercial agent and needed to acquire a shot for Loopnet, id be suddenly asking dozens of people for permission to fly. Imagine if local helicopter pilots had to ask every time they flew over someone's house. Traffic would come to a standstill. This wouldn't' work.
Let's talk privacy: Look i'm all for privacy, but we all know "reasonable right to privacy." Recently, a lady was suing some guy for pictures taken when she was inside her 25th story apartment in New York. The judge ruled the photographer wasn't breaching any privacy because the woman opened the curtains knowing that others could see in, thus invalidating her "reasonable right to privacy." Read more about this case here:
Honestly, if I wanted to spy on you, I'd take my 42 megapixel Sony, strap on a 1000mm lens and go for a ride. I can capture so much of your life with that machine, and you would never hear a peep. A drone, on the other hand, is quite loud and wouldn't get nearly the resolution most people dream of.
The rest of this bill aims to create a new system of rules for each state to vet drone pilots. I find this exceptionally challenging. Why? Most state and local officials are almost BRAINDEAD when it comes to drone law. They have to be educated on the privacy rules of America found here.
Having a system to continually vet pilots is a great idea, and i'm personally a proponent for an FAA practical drone test. (There isn't one right now, just a written exam.)
As much as Senator Feinstein is attempting to create a safer environment for her constituents, it would do more harm than good.
What can you do to fight this egregious proposed bill?