D.C. Court Dismisses Epic Petition on FAA Drone Regs

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today dismissed a petition filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center seeking review of a Federal Aviation Administration denial of an EPIC request that the agency adopt privacy regulations for the operation of unmanned “drone” aircraft.

According to the opinion written by Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, Congress in the FAA Modernization Act of 2012 directed the FAA to develop a plan to accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system and to include in the plan regulations to implement the agency’s recommendations.  The law, however, is “silent as to any privacy considerations,” the opinion states.

EPIC petitioned the FAA on Feb. 24, 2012, to promulgate privacy-specific drone regulations, and on Nov. 26, 2014, the FAA denied the petition, saying it was “dismissing [EPIC’s] petition for rulemaking,” the court opinion states.  EPIC filed its petition for review of the FAA order on March 31, 2015, missing the 60-day deadline for filing such a petition, the court opinion states.

The court opinion states that EPIC is time-barred regarding its first challenge of the FAA’s dismissal of its petition for rulemaking, and that regarding its second challenge—of the FAA’s omission of privacy provisions in its notice of proposed rulemaking issued on Feb. 23, 2015—the challenge is “premature.” —John Curran, john.curran@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily