Today is the day. From here on out, anyone who purchases a drone must register their device with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) before their UAV ever takes flight.
While the process is both simple and affordable – only $5 and a few lines of information submitted online – a new realization about the process might make you reconsider for the sake of your privacy.
Discovered by Forbes’ John Goglia after noticing some discrepancies between the FAA’s filing and the information they shared in the registrations FAQ section, it’s been confirmed that the information of registrants will be made available to the public, including registration numbers, names and addresses.
After noticing the contradictory statements between the FAQ and filings, Goglia reached out to both the FAA and DOT to confirm his initial suspicion. Below are their statements.
Initially the Registration system will not have a public search function. The FAA plans to incorporate a search by registration number in the future. Names and addresses are protected by the Privacy Act. The FAA will handle disclosure of such information in accordance with the December 15, 2015 Federal Register notice.
Until the drone registry system is modified, the FAA will not release names and address. When the drone registry system is modified to permit public searches of registration numbers, names and addresses will be revealed through those searches.
These two statements in and of themselves are contradictory, as the FAA says the information will be available through searches when a future, unspecified ‘update’ is made while the DOT says names and addresses will be protected by the Privacy Act.
What’s even more concerning is the fact that teens as young as 13 years old could have their information shared, since that’s the lower-end of the age requirement.
One would think this particular process would be similar to registering your car and license plate in the United States. That is, the information is made available to authorities, but not the public. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Considering over one million drones are expected to be sold by Christmas, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Just keep in mind that your name, address and registration number could very well be seen by anyone and everyone in the near future.