FAA Announces Where The Drones Are

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The FAA has responded to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by releasing two lists it says include all public and private entities that have sought authorization to fly drones over the United States. The suit was brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The lists include both the Certificates of Authorization issued to public entities and the Special Airworthiness Certificates issued to private operators. EFF has posted the entities to an online interactive map and says "these lists leave many questions unanswered." Separately, a pair of congressmen has sent a letter to the FAA requesting its plans to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens regarding drone operations.

The FAA's lists include police and border protection agencies, DARPA and military branches, and universities and colleges like Cornell and Georgia Tech. The EFF has sought and received assurances that additional information is coming. The organization shares sympathies with congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Edward Markey, D-Mass., whose letter to the FAA Thursday raised concerns about "adequate privacy protections" for citizens against potential "invasive and pervasive surveillance." While neither the congressmen or EFF object broadly to the use of drones in a wide range of operations, they share concerns about "improper" or "unethical" uses that could endanger privacy rights. The National Defense Authorization Act calls for the FAA to create regulations to allow for more widespread unmanned aircraft use over the U.S. by 2015.