By: Howard S. Goldman, Esq.
Drones are no longer the military robots or science fiction creations that we once imagined them to be. In fact, in 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Association, an estimated 3 million drones were purchased for use by hobbyists and businesses alike. Non-military drones are generally used either commercially or by hobbyists. All drone usage is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, but hobbyists are only required to obtain a $5 registration, and can be as young as 13 years old. Businesses operating small drones are regulated by stricter standards.
II. Drones and the Law: An Overview
The FAA’s rules regulating drone usage are known as “part 107”. Under part 107, all drones must be registered if they weigh between .55 and 55 lbs. Drones over 55 lbs. must be registered through the FAA’s Aircraft Registry.
In Massachusetts, commercial drone operators must be 17 years old, be certified to fly a drone by the FAA, stay out of airport space and other controlled airspace, operate during daylight hours only, fly no more than 400 feet above the ground at no more than 100 miles per hour, and not fly over any person not directly involved in flying the drone.
Several federal bills have been proposed to help regulate drone usage. These have all been within the privacy rights and expectations of privacy guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment, and would create a much stricter standard for everyday drone usage. [Read more…]