07:54 GMT06 March 2021
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    A Federal Aviation Administration task force made up of companies like Amazon, Google and Walmart has proposed that personal information of drone owners be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

    The 25-member task force on Monday released its recommendations to the FAA, including one that would require drone owners to register their name and address with the government. All drones weighing 250 grams – a little over half a pound – or more would contain an identifying number that can be traced back to an owner.

    "What we're recommending at this point is that each owner has a registration number and if that owner owns one airplane or a hundred airplanes the same registration number can be used on all the airplanes that that owner owns," said the head of Google's drone project, Dave Vos, who also co-chairs the task force.

    Other information like the owners email address and phone number, along with the drone’s actual serial number, are optional, according to the proposed rules, which were put forth by variety of stakeholders, including drone makers, businesses and trade groups representing law enforcement, pilots and other aviation experts.

    Missing among that group is the media, which shows in the task force's recommendation that the drone registration data be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

    "Because this new requirement will impact unmanned aircraft owners who do not have the means to protect their identities and addresses behind corporate structures (as some manned aircraft owners currently do), it is important for the FAA to take all possible steps to shield the information of privately owned aircraft from unauthorized disclosure, including issuing an advance statement that the information collected will be considered to be exempt from disclosure under FOIA," the 14-page report states.

    None of the recommendations are binding, as the task force points out: "The FAA may incorporate all, some, or none of the recommendations provided in any rulemaking activity."

    The Consumer Technology Association forecasts that 400,000 drones will be sold in the United States this holiday season. The FAA created the special task force to establish some order in the sky.

    Tags:
    drones, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), US
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