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Communications of the ACM


CFP: Homegrown Drones: Should the FAA Take on Regulating Hobbyists?

Blog coverage from the 23rd Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP), Washington, DC

The Computer, Freedom & Privacy Conference logo

The logo of the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference.

Credit: CFP2013

We hear a lot about government use of drones, both in the US and abroad, but this panel focused on individuals (a.k.a. hobbyists) use of drones and the resulting privacy implications. Panelists debated whether or not the FAA should address these issues while they are in the process of developing rules for commercial use.

Benjamin Wittes from the Brookings Institute cautioned against regulations with a focus on drones. He said that today's privacy issues are part of a larger societal change and cannot be addressed by regulating specific technologies. He said he believed that this sort of regulation was best left to Congress.

While others acknowledged the importance of establishing evergreen privacy protecting principles and technology neutral legislation, they argued that the threats presented by drones were serious and that the FCC should take action now; waiting for Congress would take too long.


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