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Thoughts on Drone Registration by an International Press Freedom Coalition



The United States announced last month that it’s creating a federal drone registry and will soon require that all drone owners register their devices in order to fly legally. While the move should help reign in the “wild wild west” that is the drone industry today, some are wary that over-regulation could hurt the rights of drone owners — including the rights of the media to gather news.

In a piece we published back in September, drone owner Pablo Castro argues that his country, Colombia, has implemented “absurd, abusive, illogical laws” that make it virtually impossible for people to use their drones legally.

On Friday, the News Media Coalition (NMC) submitted official comments to the US government on ideas for sensible laws that can help protect the public while protecting 1st amendment rights. NMC is a group of international news organizations (including the AP, Gannett, Getty Images, NPPA, NYTimes, and Reuters) that works to preserve the freedom of the press.

“Any registration process established by the FAA must avoid placing an undue burden on the First Amendment right to gather and disseminate news,” writes the NMC. Here are the suggestions by the NMC:

1. Drone registration should be required at the time the drone is purchased.

2. Only limited contact information should be required to ensure accountability.

3. Registration should be Web-based.

4. Drones should be legally flyable as soon as registration is submitted.

5. There should be no filing fee when registering a drone.

6. Detailed flight plans should not be required before flying a drone.

7. Smaller “micro” drones should not have mandatory registration.

8. The FAA should finalize its rules about flying small drones as soon as possible.

Here’s the full letter for those of you who are interested in reading the details:

What are your thoughts on these comments?

Image credits: Header illustration based on photo by jacinta lluch valero