The D.C. Circuit on Tuesday said it would not review Electronic Privacy Information Center’s, a privacy watchdog, petition to the #FAA asking the agency to address privacy concerns raised by drone use. The court found that both of EPIC’s requests were untimely.
#EPIC objected to FAA’s dismissal of its petition for the addition of drone privacy rules in a planned rule-making regarding #drones and the fact that the FAA left out privacy rules in a preliminary notice of proposed rulemaking. The D.C. Circuit found that review of EPIC’s rulemaking petition was time-barred and review of the lack of drone privacy regulations in the proposed rules is premature.
The D.C. Circuit was unpersuaded that the FAA’s letter denying the privacy watchdog’s rulemaking petition was ambiguous enough to constitute “reasonable grounds” for not filing a Petition for Review within 60 days pursuant to 49 USC 46110(a). Likewise, the court found that it simply does “not have the authority to review proposed agency rules.” EPIC would have to wait until the drone rules are finalized in order to have the court review them for not addressing privacy issues.
Speaking today at the AUVSI annual conference in New Orleans, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the agency is establishing a broad-based advisory committee that will provide advice on key unmanned aircraft integration issues. He also announced plans to make it easier for students to fly unmanned aircraft as part of their coursework.
Huerta said the drone advisory committee is an outgrowth of the successful stakeholder-based UAS registration task force and the MicroUAS aviation rulemaking committee.
Those panels were set up for a single purpose and for limited duration. In contrast, the drone advisory committee is intended to be a long-lasting group. It will help identify and prioritize integration challenges and improvements, and create broad support for an overall integration strategy.
“Input from stakeholders is critical to our ability to achieve that perfect balance between integration and safety,” Huerta said. “We know that our policies and overall regulation of this segment of aviation will be more successful if we have the backing of a strong, diverse coalition.”
Huerta said he has asked Intel CEO Brian Krzanich to chair the group.
Huerta also announced the FAA, in the very near future, will start allowing students to operate UAS for educational and research purposes.
As a result, schools and students will no longer need a Section 333 exemption or any other authorization to fly provided they follow the rules for model aircraft. Faculty will be able to use drones in connection with helping their students with their courses.
“Schools and universities are incubators for tomorrow’s great ideas, and we think this is going to be a significant shot in the arm for innovation,” Huerta said