Alphabet unit wing blows up new U.S. drone ID rules citing privacy

Alphabet’s drone delivery unit, Wing, criticized the Trump administrative rules issued this week that mandate broadcast-based remote identification of drones, and said they should be revised to allow internet-based tracking.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enacted rules that allow small drones to fly over people and at night in the United States and mandate remote identification technology for almost all drones.

The rules eliminate the requirement that drones, formerly known as unmanned aerial vehicles, be connected to the internet to transmit location data, but require that they send remote ID messages over the air.

“This approach creates barriers to compliance and has unintended negative impacts on business and consumer privacy,” Wing said on Thursday in a blog post and Live and Where Customers Get Packages by and When. “

Wing added that “American communities would not accept this type of monitoring of their deliveries or taxi rides on the road. They should not accept it in the sky.”

Wing urged the FAA to expand the ways operators can meet ID requirements.

The FAA announced Thursday that it has “received and addressed more than 50,000 public comments on the proposed remote identification rule that will promote the safe integration of drones into the national airspace system.”

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said Remote ID will act as a “digital license plate for drones”.

Drone manufacturers have 18 months to start producing remote ID drones and operators have an additional year to deploy Remote ID.

Wing argues that web-based tracking “allows a drone to be identified as it flies over it without necessarily sharing the drone’s full trajectory or flight history.”

Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology said this week that it has “long supported the FAA’s Remote ID Initiative because it will improve the accountability, safety and protection of drones … We are reviewing the final rule to understand how DJI can take steps to meet FAA compliance requirements. “

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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