A federal appeals court ruled unanimously in favor of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday, stating that the mandatory remote identification of civilian drones does not violate the Constitution and that "free-for-all" drone usage is a threat to public safety.
The remote ID rules require drones to provide location and identification information during flight, which the FAA likens to a digital license plate.
For drones that lack a built-in mechanism for remote ID, operators can attach an external module.
With remote ID, law enforcement can identify the control station of a drone if it's flying in a prohibited area or in an unsafe manner.
Tyler Brennan is a personal drone user and owner of a RaceDayQuads, a store dedicated to "first person view" drone racing. Participants in FPV racing attach cameras to the front of their drones and race them while viewing their progress from the video feed.
Brennan filed a lawsuit against the FAA over the remote ID rules, claiming that law enforcement agencies could use the ID information to keep drone users under continuous surveillance, thereby violating the Fourth Amendment.
“Drones are coming. Lots of them. They are fun and useful. But their ability to pry, spy, crash, and drop things poses real risks," Pillard stated. "Free-for-all drone use threatens air traffic, people and things on the ground, and even national security."
Remote ID Rule and SecurityThe remote ID rules were finalized in January 2021 and added to the federal register two months later. The FAA gave manufacturers 18 months after that to start production of standard commercial drones with remote ID capabilities, and all new commercial drones must be manufactured in compliance with the law starting Sept. 16, 2022.
Sara M. Baxenberg, an attorney representing the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing in favor of the remote ID rules.
The court decision comes as Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) have recently introduced legislation that would boost government authority to counter any threats posed by drones, such as when drones are flown near airports, sometimes disrupting flight schedules.