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Lawmaker wants FAA to publish names of drone licensees

Drone_AP120129019978_620x350-e1355769853252By Josh Peterson

The public may soon have the ability to search through the names of persons and organizations operating drones within the United States.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey introduced the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act (DAPTA) Tuesday, which attempts to create guidelines and limitations on how the FAA issues drone licenses.

The FAA is projecting that the number of licenses for domestic commercial drones could increase in the next five years, to exceed 10,000. The bill is the latest in the debate by federal, state and local officials over the use of domestic drones for law enforcement and other government purposes — such as scientific research — and commercial use.

While there is agreement over the benefits of drone use within the national borders, such as spotting wildfire and assessing natural disasters, privacy advocates remain concerned about their capacity to carry and fire weapons and conduct wide-ranging surveillance.

Markey’s bill would also require a warrant to be obtained if a drone is used for law enforcement or intelligence purposes, require license applicants to detail a plan for data retention, and mandate that the FAA create a public searchable database of drone operation licensees on its website.

Markey said that he hopes the advancement of the legislation will ensure that “these ‘eyes in the skies’ don’t become ‘spies in the skies.’”

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