Drone Law Talk Take Away

We made our way to U.C. Berkley Law Schools Boalt Hall for a lunchtime talk about Drones. (Announcement below)

The usual cast of folks one would envision from Berkley representing all walks of life and the spectrum of age groups. I kept thinking they were going to cue up the Darth Vader music for my introduction, but that did not happen. I believe the crowd thought they were going to get a guy who made excuses for killer drone assassinations. Possibly even a zealot espousing the notion that we as a society should just be willing to accept privacy rights violations from the police as we march gleefully forward into a DoD inspired dystopian police state.

They were not getting that from me. I was talking about feeding a hungry world and applying the privacy laws already on the books to this technology. Some tried to argue with the industry statements, and there was even some outward hostility towards AUVSI. (Drone lobby group) I told them from the start that no subject was off limits and that I would be willing to answer their questions to the best of my ability.

First off, I told them that I never was a proponent of the weaponized UAS idea. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that people are going to have apprehension when companies start arming machines. (Well, that is what most Scifi fans believe anyway.) Secondly, I believe the first responders have put their foot in it as they are ham-fistedly secretive about what they would like to do.

Case in point…

Alameda County sheriffs department or even the DHS SAR demonstration. I contend that we need to make the public a part of the conversation that pertains to them. When they heard that I had suggested to the FAA folks that ACLU, EFF or some other public privacy interest group should be on the current UAS ARC they started to soften. I followed up with there should be daylight or public involvement in the “public” rulemaking process. They seemed surprised that someone from within the industry believes that the public deserves to be in on the rule making process. The notion is not just innovative it makes sense. Well, except to the industry, FAA administration and anyone else pushing the DoD vendor agenda.

In the end, I gave some industry insights about how the technology was co-opted by the DoD vendors and that some of these systems were already plowshares that got beat into swords. They had no idea that this was the case or that thousands of their friends and neighbours have been flying them around (working) for years. No one in the room had issues with Ag, SAR or science. Only apprehension was the asymmetrical warfare overlay and big brother applications.

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DRONE LAW: Opportunities, Risks, and the Future
Presented by Boalt.org and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology
March 21, 2013 || 12:45 – 2:00
Room 100, Boalt Hall, Berkeley Law School — Lunch Provided
What opportunities are made possible by the emergence of commercial and do-it-yourself drones? What are the risks, and implications for privacy and surveillance? Are current protections sufficient to allow further innovation and investment to occur while protecting the public interest? Or do further protections and regulations need to be put in place as we see more widespread adoption?
This lunchtime discussion and Q&A will feature Trevor Timm, activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international non-profit digital rights advocacy group that focuses on the intersection of civil liberties and technology. Timm also operates the @drones Twitter account, which reports on surveillance drones in the US and the secrecy surrounding military drones around the world. He currently serves as executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit which supports and funds independent journalism organizations dedicated to transparency and accountability in government.
He’ll be joined by Patrick Egan, President of the Silicon Valley chapter of AUVSI — the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which works to promote interest, expertise, and knowledge in the development and application of unmanned systems and technologies. He is also producer of the sUAS News Podcast, the world’s leading live and on-demand audio broadcast about unmanned systems, space and robotics technology. He currently supports a U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab future warfare project. 
We’ll tackle the current state of play in domestic drone usage and regulation, and take stock of where things are looking into the future. If you have any questions, you can contact event organizer Tim Hwang at [email protected] Cosponsored by boalt.org and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. Lunch will be provided. 
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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).