In December 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a notice of proposed rule-making for remote identification of drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that would allow the FAA, law enforcement agencies, and federal security agencies to identify UAS while in flight (the Remote ID Rule). The proposed Remote ID Rule received 53,206 public comments, closing its commentary period on March 2, 2020.
Cited as 84 FR 72438, the Remote ID Rule would facilitate the collection and storage of certain data such as identity, location, and altitude of UAS. More specifically, the new rule will require the following:
Drones exceeding 8.8 ounces or .55 lbs. must be registered with the FAA and broadcast the identifying information while in flight;
Remote identification will be required for UAS flights conducted at night, over people, and beyond the pilot’s line of sight; and
The UAS pilot’s location information (control station) must be included with the remote identification information.
The purpose for the Remote ID Rule is understandable. Apart from the dangers of reckless flying, intellectual property theft by bad actors, especially those involving foreign espionage is an on-going and incredibly costly crime perpetrated in the United States. Additionally, UAS are popular with organized crime as a method of reconnaissance, communication, and distribution for drug trafficking. Thus, the perceived intent is that the Remote ID Rule will enhance public safety and national security by allowing federal agencies to monitor drones in U.S. airspace.
While many recreational or professional UAS enthusiasts may find the Remote ID Rule frustrating, there is some good news: 1) The Remote ID Rule will be slowly phased in over a three-year period, negating the need for immediate compliance and giving manufacturers adequate time to create cost-effective and compliant products; and 2) According to a study produced in the Federal Register, 93% of the existing UAS fleet may currently possess the technical capabilities (internet connectivity, ability to transmit data, ability to receive software uploads, radio frequency transceivers, and advanced microprocessors) to meet Remote ID Rule specifications. The list of manufacturers included in the study can be found here.
For the private investigators, surveyors, engineers, hunters, drone racers, and photographers who utilize and enjoy drones, check the manufacturer specifications to see if your equipment is technologically prepared to transmit the requisite data.
The proposed Remote ID Rule closed for public comments eight (8) days ago. LaCyberLawBlog will watch for FAA updates on this topic.