Will the FAA Drone Registry Have a FOIA Exemption?

December 2, 2015

It's never too early for journalists to complain about secrecy. Case in point: the database of drone owners which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to register. A key task force recently recommended that the database be exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The FAA plans to register all drones above a certain size, but has not yet finalized its drone regulations. The agency set up a task force to advise it on what the rules should be. That task force in a November 21, 2015, report recommended that the FAA issue “an advance statement that the information collected will be considered to be exempt from disclosure under FOIA.”

Of course, journalists themselves may often benefit from use of drones to cover everything from demonstrations to wildfires. But journalists may also need to know about who is registered to operate a drone — whether the story be about peeping Toms or industrial espionage.

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