The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was served with an 836,796-person lawsuit last week alleging wrongful collection of personal data and money under unmanned aerial system (UAS or drone) regulations. This lawsuit, Robert Taylor v. FAA, is the second class action filed against the FAA—the first, filed in 2015 by Robert Taylor’s brother, John, alleged that applying Part 48 of the FAA UAS regulations to model aircraft was illegal. Specifically, the requirement that model aircraft must register with the FAA. Last May, a federal appeals court found that the regulations were indeed illegal, vacating model aircraft registration requirements. However, this December, with President Trump’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, the ruling was effectively rescinded.
Robert Taylor’s lawsuit alleges four counts—that the FAA violated the previous Taylor decision by collecting money and personal information under Part 48; that the FAA violated the plaintiff’s and the class’s constitutional and privacy rights by unlawfully promulgating the Registration Rule and enforcing the Registration Rule; that the FAA did not delete the private and personal information of model aircraft owners and did not refund their registration fees; that the FAA unlawfully continued the registration process and unlawfully maintained plaintiff and the class’s private and personal information even after the court held that the FAA was prohibited from doing so.
If this suit is successful, each injured party may be entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages under the Privacy Act, which would be $836,796,000. The lawsuit also seeks $5 back for the class (i.e., the registration fee), which would be approximately $4,183, 980.