Tag Archives: Drones

FAA’s new drone rules could be very restrictive, report says

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Image: Flickr, Walter

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will soon release new rules on the use of drones in the U.S., and they might be more restrictive than the current ones, potentially making the use of a flying robot much more difficult.

Drone pilots will need a license, will only be able to fly during the day, and can only operate below 400 feet, and in the operator’s line of sight, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Monday. The FAA is reportedly also going to group all unmanned aerial vehicles — regardless of weight or size — under these rules, meaning that flying a small toy drone will be subject to the same restrictive rules as flying a bigger commercial one.

The drone licenses are likely to require “dozens of hours” flying traditional aircrafts, the WSJ reports citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the rule-making process. In other words, forget about buying a drone at Best Buy and flying it on your own for any commercial purpose. These restrictive rules will also affect companies like Amazon or Google, which have been long working on delivery drones.

As we have reported before, drones fly in a murky legal area right now, and the FAA is expected to issue new rules before the end of the year.

The nascent drone industry, as well as the large cadre of UAVs aficionados, probably won’t like these rules. Although it’s important to stress that the FAA hasn’t published any rules yet, and the details could still change before then. Moreover, these rules will just be a proposal, meaning they will still need to go through a public commenting period, after which the FAA will issue the final rules based on the feedback from the public and stakeholders. All in all, it could take one or two years until the final regulations are issued.

The FAA declined to comment on the report.

“Sorry, but we can’t discuss specifics of the upcoming proposed rule,” FAA spokesman Les Door told Mashable. “We can say that the proposed regulations and standards will make a start toward broader commercial use of UAS.”

BONUS: An animated history of drones

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/11/24/faa-new-drone-rules/

U.S. Must Release Legal Justification for Drone Strikes, Court Rules

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A MQ-9 Reaper drone, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner during a combat mission over southern Afghanistan.
Image: AP Photo/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt, US Air Force/Associated Press

In an unprecedented decision, a federal appeals court ordered the U.S. government to release a memo detailing the legal justification behind the killing of American citizens by drone strikes overseas.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the government can’t claim the memo needs to be secret anymore, because various U.S. officials have repeatedly acknowledged the so-called targeted drone strikes program in general and the killings of three American citizens in Yemen in 2011 in particular. This is an addition to a U.S. Department of Justice White Paper, leaked by NBC News and confirmed by DOJ, which explained the legal rationale behind drone strikes.

“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the DOJ White Paper,” wrote Judge Jon O. Newman in a decision (embedded below), that was made unanimously by a three judge panel in Manhattan.

Monday’s decision overturns a January 2013 lower court ruling that allowed the Department of Justice to keep secret a memorandum that provided the legal justification for the drone strikes that killed three United States citizens in Yemen: Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric who allegedly had become a prominent Al-Qaeda spokesperson, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, and Samir Khan.

At the time, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon ruled in favor of secrecy despite the fact that she found herself in a “paradoxical situation” of letting the government claim it was legal to kill Americans outside of declared war zones, while also claiming it can’t reveal the legal reasoning behind that decision.

“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,” she wrote.

The lawsuit in Monday’s decision was filed by The New York Times, which has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the legal memo, with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

It’s unclear whether the DOJ will now appeal the decision, and, for now, there’s no timetable for the release of the documents.

Both the Times and the ACLU, however, celebrated the ruling.

“This is a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to use secrecy and selective disclosure to manipulate public opinion about the targeted killing program,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said in an emailed statement. “The public has a right to know why the administration believes it can carry out targeted killings of American citizens who are located far away from any conventional battlefield.”

“The court reaffirmed a bedrock principle of democracy: The people do not have to accept blindly the government’s assurances that it is operating within the bounds of the law; they get to see for themselves the legal justification that the government is working from,” David McCraw, the Times‘ lawyer, said in a statement.

Here’s the full ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal Court Decision Ordering U.S. Government to Disclose Drone Killinds Memo

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/04/21/federal-court-drone-strikes-ruling/