The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed its 65-page brief in its case against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week, for the FAA’s failure to address privacy risks in its final small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) rule (or Part 107 as its known). We previously reported on this case in April of last year, when EPIC attempted to file its complaint with the D.C. Circuit Court, but was told by the court that it could not seek review of the FAA’s drone rule until it was a final order. We then reported again, when the final rule was issued on June 28, 2016, with an effective date of August 29, 2016, that EPIC had reignited its fight once again. EPIC’s complaint asks the court to vacate the FAA’s final rule and remand to the FAA for further consideration and proceedings on the issue of privacy matters.
Now, in EPIC’s brief filed this week, EPIC argues that the FAA’s refusal to include privacy provisions in Part 107 “threatens fundamental privacy rights, is arbitrary and capricious and is contrary to the law.” EPIC states in its brief, “Contrary to the FAA’s claim that the FAA Modernization Act ‘neither mandates nor permits the FAA to issue and enforce regulations specifically aimed at protecting privacy,’ the statute explicitly requires the agency to evaluate all potential hazards created by small drone operations.” EPIC believes that the FAA’s exclusion of privacy hazards from consideration is contrary to Congress’ clear mandate in the FAA Modernization Act. We will continue to watch for the FAA’s response and the court’s decision on this matter.