Posted on September 10, 2015
According to the Los Angeles Times, last night California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 142 which was proposed legislation that intended to restrict the use of drones flying over private property (you can read my post on why I urged the Governor to veto the bill by clicking here).
Governor Brown vetoed the bill acknowledging that it was well-intentioned but he went on to say that it “could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action” whether or not anyone’s privacy was violated.
With this victory, it is now time that we address some of the issues raised by this bill
While I applaud Governor Brown for his veto decision and see it as a victory for drone users and the drone industry, I also believe it is now a call to action for us to move forward in addressing some of the issues this bill has raised so that we can arrive at a better, more balanced bill.
6 items that now need to be addressed include:
- 1) Coming up with a clear definition of what private airspace ownership constitutes (James Grimsley has an excellent article on this topic that you can read by clicking here)
- 2) From a privacy perspective, what is an acceptable altitude? Based on my experience it is very hard for anyone to gauge how high a drone really is and once a drone reaches past 125 feet the image details on the ground are hard to make out. So we need to establish what is fair and reasonable. Some leaders in the drone industry say that 200 feet would be a reasonable altitude (see here and here).
- 3) Having better, more defined rules from the FAA (which is the national authority that has exclusive jurisdiction of the airspace in the US) so that local and state governments don’t have to navigate, manage or regulate the complex airspace system.
- 4) Ways to better educate drone pilots so that ignorance is avoided and drone operators know, understand and follow the FAA’s rules (for more info on what the drone rules are click here).
- 5) There should be a required license or certification of some sort for anyone who flies a drone to insure that pilots are properly educated and deemed responsible to fly.
- 6) Lastly, those who fly/support drone technology need to help educate the public to the benefits surrounding drones so that the drone hysteria that is currently being fueled by the media can be remedied.
While this list doesn’t cover every single issue on the drone spectrum, I hope it can serve as a starting point for having meaningful discussions centered on safe, fair and respectful flying. We need to start researching, educating and conversing with the public and government officials on these issues so that we can arrive at solutions that benefit all parties, otherwise we could be in this same situation next year with another well-intentioned bill that misses the mark.