Greg McNeal Forbes
The domestic use of drones is a popular topic following Congress’ recently passed FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The act provides funding for the FAA over the next four years, but the portions of the bill (§§ 331-336) that herald the possibility of expanded access to U.S. airspace for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS’s) are drawing the most attention.
A number of organizations have criticized this portion of the bill as setting a dangerous precedent that will pave the way for government and private parties to trample on privacy rights. The ACLU, for example, has been quite vocal in its criticism of this portion of the bill, releasing a report and a series of tweets to demonstrate their concerns over the prospect of intrusive aerial surveillance without proper safeguards. While a robust public debate over the bill and the domestic use of drones is warranted, the conclusion that widespread privacy violations are imminent is premature.