Reports: Department of Transportation to Require All Drones Be Registered

by Mike Masnick
Oct. 17, 2015

We've been waiting forever for the FAA to finally come up with some sort of rules around public drone use in the US. Earlier this month we noted that the FAA had simply ignored the mandated deadline to put rules in place. And in the few cases where the FAA has said stuff, it's been ridiculous or just confusing.

However, reports are emerging that on Monday the Department of Transportation (which the FAA is a part of) will finally release some drone rules... and it's going to include the requirement that all drone purchases be registered with the government. Apparently this is separate from the FAA's rules, which still may not show up for a few years. While the details will matter, if the reports are accurate, that seems like a ridiculous, bureaucratic and cumbersome path to go down. While there are some fear mongering reports about errant drones flying in places they shouldn't, the vast majority of private drone use is not at all problematic. Demanding registration for every single drone, even the personal hobbyist kind, would seem like massive overkill that would likely decrease the usefulness and innovation in a very important emerging field of innovation. Also, it's not at all clear what this means for people who build their own drones (or want to).

At best, it will only serve to drive more of the best innovation out of the US, rather than enabling it to happen here. I'm sure, in typical regulator-think, the bureaucrats assume this is no big deal, because "it's just a registration," but it's still a form of friction that makes it more difficult and annoying to own drones, at a time when the market and the uses of the devices is still growing. I have no problem with using the law to go after people who use drones for illegal purposes in some way, but a registration-first system seems to assume that many uses will be illegal, and if they aren't now, it makes it much easier to criminalize lots of different uses.

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