The Federal Aviation Administration will no longer be able to stall on privacy guidelines for private drone operation in the United States.
President Barack Obama is set to issue an executive order to create privacy guidelines for private drones operating in U.S. airspace, according to Politico. If executed, this order would put the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, in charge of developing these guidelines.
Until now, privacy guidelines for drones were considered to be under the domain of the FAA, which is currently embroiled in the lengthy process of crafting regulations for operating commercial drones in U.S. airspace. However, the FAA has yet to address photos and other personal information potentially collected by private drones, a move that’s been criticized by both lawmakers and consumer groups.
Brendan Schulman, a lawyer who specializes in litigation involving unmanned aircraft systems, told ReadWrite the measure lines up with the FAA’s earlier testimony.
“The FAA has never had a mandate concerning privacy, and in Congressional hearings has indicated that it would look to other agencies to develop any necessary privacy policies for commercial drones,” he said.
“There is no obvious agency to take this on, so it seems the President made a decision to specifically designate NTIA as the lead agency to study the issue. My understanding is that the result will be privacy best practices, not necessarily regulations.”
Congress has set a 2015 deadline for the FAA to develop its regulations. Internationally, drones are used for delivery purposes, crop surveying and maintenance, search and rescue, and more.
White House officials have not made it clear when the President will be issuing his order.