Drone Details Released By FOIA Suit

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In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FAA has released details about 125 certificates of authorization granted to 18 entities that are using drone aircraft. EFF says the thousands of pages of documents include "extensive details" about the specific drone models in use, where they fly, how frequently they fly, and how long they stay in the air. "There are still many unanswered questions about the privacy implications of drones," said EFF. The group posted all the certificates on its website and asked the "Internet community" to help them review the documents and advocate for more transparency in regard to the use of drones for public surveillance.

The 18 entities in the files include police departments, colleges and universities, several federal agencies, a city in Kansas, and a marine resource department in Mississippi. EFF said it filed the suit after the FAA failed to respond to an FOIA request filed more than a year ago. "There are still many unanswered questions about the privacy implications of drones," the EFF said. About two months ago, the FAA responded to another suit by EFF by releasing lists of the entities, both public and private, that have sought authorization to fly drones in the national airspace system. The EFF website also provides links to a site where readers can submit an online public-records request to find out more about drones in their vicinity. Drones currently in use operate under very limited conditions; however, the FAA is working on a plan to integrate the aircraft into the National Airspace System by 2015.