On March 31, 2015, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a petition against the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) proposed rule on commercial drone use, in the D.C. Circuit. EPIC believes that the FAA did not create privacy safeguards in its proposed rule as mandated by Congress. EPIC explains in its petition that Congress requires the FAA to create a “comprehensive plan” for private drone use in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. EPIC asks that the D.C. Circuit find that the FAA’s failure to propose drone privacy rules in its rule unlawful.
While the FAA did claim that it would make privacy issues a top concern, when it released the proposed rule in February 2015, the FAA did not address privacy issues stating that such issues were “beyond the scope of this rule making.” However, to fill this gap, President Obama did release a memorandum ordering federal agencies to comply with privacy and civil liberties as well as an order for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop best practices for commercial drone use. For now EPIC’s complaint still stands. No best practices have been developed by the NTIA and more commercial drones have begun flying in the air.