Well who would have thought it, I mentioned last week that its time to comment on the BVLOS ARC,

Over the weekend somebody pointed me towards this comment, one of the Blue sUAS vendors do we think?

The whole BVLOS ARC doing closed-door work is completely antithetical to open government. There were multiple subcommittees and work being done all out of the public eye and not on the record. There were also multiple foreign noncitizens individuals and foreign-owned companies involved that were meeting privately seeking to influence the Federal government in its outcomes while US citizens were kept in the dark and unable to participate.

Can someone tell me how the FAA employees, US citizens, and noncitizens involved in these closed door meetings to influence the federal government were not violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act? The Department of Justice webpage https://www.justice.gov/nsd-fara/frequently-asked-questions states

“WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF FARA?

FARA is an important tool to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security. The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States by ensuring that the United States government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy, and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information. FARA fosters transparency by requiring that persons who engage in specified activities within the United States on behalf of a foreign principal register with and disclose those activities to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice is required to make such information publicly available.”

“WHAT IS AN “AGENT OF A FOREIGN PRINCIPAL”?

An “agent of a foreign principal” is any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or otherwise acts at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a “foreign principal” and does any of the following:

Engages within the United States in political activities, such as intending to influence any U.S. Government official or the American public regarding U.S. domestic or foreign policy or the political or public interests of a foreign government or foreign political party.

Acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information service employee, or political consultant.

Solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value within the United States.

Represents within the United States the interests of a foreign principal before U.S. Government officials or agencies.

See 22 U.S.C. § 611(c); 28 C.F.R. § 5.100.

WHAT IS A “FOREIGN PRINCIPAL?”
A “foreign principal” can be a foreign government, a foreign political party, any person outside the United States (except U.S. citizens who are domiciled within the United States), and any entity organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country. It can also include a foreign faction or body of insurgents whose legitimacy the United States government has yet to recognize.

See 22 U.S.C. § 611(b); 28 C.F.R. § 5.100.”

“WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING FARA?
The penalty for a willful violation of FARA is imprisonment for not more than five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Certain violations are considered misdemeanors, with penalties of imprisonment of not more than six months, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. There are also civil enforcement provisions that empower the Attorney General to seek an injunction requiring registration under FARA (for applicable activities) or correcting a deficient registration statement.

The FAA needs to respond to this comment by explaining how the FAA, FAA employees, and others complied with FARA. They also need to explain why any BVLOS rulemaking they are doing is free of foreign influence (which will be hard when the FAA did it all behind closed doors).

By Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.