At the recent New York State Bar Association annual meeting, Joseph M. Hanna and Dennis P. Glascott, partners in the Business and Commercial Practice Group, spoke about gray areas in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drone guidelines.
Currently, the FAA rules state that drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet off the ground or within five miles of an airport. Commercial drones must also follow special speed and weight restrictions, and any drone over .55 pounds is required to be registered with the government. Outside of these basic regulations, drone law is vague and, according to Dennis, “[Puts lawyers in a] tough spot, because you’re going to have to advise your clients in an area where the law’s not clear.”
Joe went on to provide an example of how the lack of regulation leaves people vulnerable. “Privacy concerns are issues that should and must be addressed at a level other than the FAA. … Many people would consider it an invasion of privacy for a person to hover a drone over his own property while taking pictures of sunbathing neighbors, but state law does not appear to prohibit it.”
Dennis concluded, “The technology is moving faster than the legislation can.” As both private and commercial drone use grows in popularity, laws and regulations will have to evolve and be put in place quicker and quicker.