DJI is putting forward its proposal for an electronic identification framework for small drones. The current system of drone registration with the FAA exposes personal information of each registrant.

Last year, Congress instructed the FAA to develop a system to remotely identify the owners and operators of unmanned aircraft. So much for deregulation. It’s the government, so the FAA deadline was two years. In Washington-speak, that’s around a decade. We should be flying the Phantom 10 by then.

The company has proposed a solution that’s easy to implement thanks to the technology existing on many current drones. It’s an electronic identification framework that would allow law enforcement to remotely identify the user while respecting our privacy.

“DJI understands that accountability is a key part of responsible drone use, and we have outlined a proposal that balances the privacy of drone operators with the legitimate concerns authorities have about some drone operations,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “This is another example of how the UAS industry is innovating solutions to emerging concerns, and we look forward to working with other stakeholders on how to implement the best possible system.”

There’s a white paper on the subject and rightly slams the double standard endured by UAS owners.

“No other technology is subject to mandatory industry-wide tracking and recording of its use, and we strongly urge against making UAS the first such technology. The case for such an Orwellian model has not been made,” the white paper says. “A networked system provides more information than needed, to people who don’t require it, and exposes confidential business information in the process.”

Someone has a political science degree. I’d add ‘Sad!’ to the end for greater effect. It seems our political process only works in 140 characters or less.

Drone operators have proven time and again to be law abiding despite threats of physical violence and unlawful shootdowns of drones flying legally. An electronic ID allows government agencies and local law enforcement to identify operators flying in restricted areas or illegally. It’s a smart and simple solution versus the open database.

Though it is Congress we are talking about. The same one allowing ISPs to sell our browsing history to advertisers today. It’s a great idea, and thankfully, it’s regulatory. The FAA can adopt most of these ideas as the existing framework is in place. But, legislation will be required if the technology becomes mandated across all manufacturers.

We will keep an eye out for any sponsored legislation, but expect any rule changes to be slow. A DJI drone might hit 45mph, but Washington speed is glacial.


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