Privacy Issues and the Use of sUAS/Drones in Maryland

Author: 
Paul Goeringer, Ashley Ellixson, and Jon Moyle

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the lawful use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or more commonly as drones, are currently limited to military, research, and recreational applications. Under the FAA’s view, commercial uses of drones are illegal unless approved by the Federal government. This will change in the future. Congress authorized the FAA to develop regulations for the use of drones by private parties in the U.S by September 30, 2015 (FAA Modernization Act of 2012). FAA missed this deadline, but expects comprehensive regulations for drones to be completed by June 2016 (Jansen, 2015).

History shows that the law rarely keeps up with technology. Courts often struggle when applying existing laws and previous rulings to modern technology. State legislatures can help clearly define some of the rules to guide courts in how to handle new technology. Drones have the potential to benefit producers (through crop and livestock monitoring), but they present new challenges as other groups begin to use the technology.

The publication is available here.

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