1. No Armed Drones.
2. Zero Tolerance for Drone-peeping.
3. Federal “Safe Skies Surcharge”.
4. Municipal licensing.
5. Local “No-Drone Zones”.
6. Public building “No-Drone Zones”.
7. “No-Drone Zone” Referendums.
8. “Transparency of Drones in Government”.
9. Victims’ Rights.
10. Ongoing technology assessment.
The SAFE Initiative (Skies Are For Everyone) is submitted in reply to a Request for Public Comment to FAA Docket No. FAA-2015-4378, Inquiry #10: Are there additional means beyond registration to encourage accountability and responsible use of UAS?
Yes. Electronic Federal registration at point-of-sale and creating a “DIN” (Drone Identification Number) are vital, but the UAS Registration Task Force, Secretary Foxx, Director Huerta and other drone policy-makers can use this opportunity to go further:
1. No Armed Drones. A ban on the production, sale, purchase and possession of weaponized drones for non-military uses.
2. No "Drone-peeping". Zero tolerance for those who violate the privacy of any person, group, business or house of worship. Tough penalties on sex offenders, recreational droners, political opposition researchers and law enforcement or intelligence agents who lack warrants or proper cause.
3. Federal “Safe Skies Surcharge”. In addition to electronic Federal registration of each drone purchase, drone manufacturers and retail sellers must pay a surcharge on the sale price of each drone sold. Proceeds would go to the “U.S. Safe Skies Fund” to:
- help uninsured victims of drone accidents;
- expand drone education programs, and
- provide grants to National Guard units and state agencies to buy drones for disaster relief, emergency response and infrastructure inspection.
4. Municipal licensing and fees. Local governments may license drone operators which can include setting age limits, requiring passage of an exam and imposing local “No-Drone Zones”. Municipalities may create a two-tiered license fee structure for recreational hobbyists and commercial delivery drone operators.
5. Local “No-Drone Zones”. Municipalities and counties may designate speed limits, altitude limits, decibel caps, curfews and “No-Drone Zones” beyond FAA restrictions. They may enforce this by collecting fines from violators and/or confiscating the offender’s drone.
6. Public building “No-Drone Zones”. Any public building or public works facility (i.e. school, hospital, water filtration plant, police/fire station, post office, library, transit center, social service agency) may be declared a “No-Drone Zone”.
7. “No-Drone Zone” Referendums. Voters may designate their precinct as a “No-Drone Zone” through binding referendum. Signatures of 5% of a precinct’s registered voters would be needed to place the question on the ballot which would take effect immediately upon approval by 50%+1 of those voting on the question.
8. "TODIG" (Transparency of Drones in Government). Each public body will annually disclose the size and cost of their drone fleet. Taxpayers need to know.
9. Victims’ Rights. Any person injured by a drone whether by intent or accident is entitled to full and timely restitution from the drone operator, seller and manufacturer.
10. Ongoing technology assessment. The FAA will establish an Office of Drone Technology Assessment to evaluate the impact and costs of emerging drone technology during the next decade, and make recommendations to the White House, Congress, Governors and other decision-makers. Modeled on the successful-but-defunct Congressional Office of Technology Assessment which analyzed hundreds of emerging technologies - this Office would face “sunset” in 2026.
- The surcharge and municipal fees will compensate for the injuries, damage, fear and nuisance which increased drone use will surely inflict on residents. Further, the “Safe Skies Surcharge” will enable states to purchase drones for disaster relief and infrastructure inspection, thereby creating new markets.
- The reason to restrict who can fly drones where and when, is that our privacy is already under assault from many angles. Drones are a highly-intrusive technology which - if unchecked - will clog our National Air Space (NAS) as well as our National Ear Space (NES).
- Why ban armed drones? I live in Chicago. We already have too much firepower in the hands of idiots.
- My reason for transparency, technology assessment and local referendums? An informed and active citizenry is vital to democracy.
- Drones are now used for search-and-rescue, farming, journalism, pipeline inspection, archeology, real estate and more. They’re fun to fly and drone-vids are fun to watch. It is a fast-growing technology, though, whose impact deserves careful and cautious consideration.
Submitted By Claude Walker, Chicago, Illinois. November 5, 2015