November 12, 2015

The Government Is Rushing out an Ill-Conceived Plan to Regulate Consumer Drones

Eli Dourado

Former Senior Research Fellow
Summary

Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration estimate that up to a million drones will be sold this holiday season, and it's making them very nervous. Let's face it: Some of these drone recipients — possibly even a few Vox readers — are likely to do something stupid with their new toys in the next few months.

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Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration estimate that up to a million drones will be sold this holiday season, and it's making them very nervous. Let's face it: Some of these drone recipients — possibly even a few Vox readers — are likely to do something stupid with their new toys in the next few months.

In the past, noncommercial drone users have occasionally behaved foolishly and endangered others, but this hasn't been a big deal because there just aren't that many in the skies. If holiday drone sales don't disappoint, that will change.

So the FAA has convened a task force to explore new drone registration requirements that could for the first time implicate hobbyists who were previously exempt from regulation. Ordinary consumers who buy or receive drones might need to fill out DMV-style paperwork to operate within the law.

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