Drones in the News-Clarifying the Record | Alaska Native News

Drones in the News-Clarifying the Record

image30-03-2015 08.43.07Juneau, Alaska – Representative Shelley Hughes, co-chair of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Legislative Task Force, seeks to clarify laws and guidelines for unmanned aircraft use following a recent incident in a residential neighborhood.

“Many of you may have read recent articles about an individual flying his recreational drone in a neighborhood where the community members felt uneasy about the aircraft flying too close to home and kids. As co-chair of the task force, I want to assure the public that legislators, state officials and the public and industry members of the Task Force take privacy issues very seriously,” Representative Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, said.

Alaska’s Constitution guarantees Alaskans the Right to Privacy. Article 1, Section 22 states, “The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed. The legislature shall implement this section.” The Legislature has a long-standing history of protecting Alaskans’ privacy by instituting statutes regarding stalking, harassment, indecent viewing, sending explicit images, and misusing confidential information. The Task Force continues to review these protections particularly as they relate to unmanned aircraft systems.

“While the Federal Aviation Administration does not have a seat on the Task Force, they have been very instrumental in clarifying regulations, laws and practical interpretations of safe operations of unmanned aircraft systems,” Hughes said. “The FAA rulings for commercial and governmental use of UAS are currently out for public comment and we hope to see something more concrete by the end of the year. Recreational users on the other hand are instructed by FAA to abide by the guidelines of a community-based organization, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). In the AMA safety and operations guidelines, it clearly states that ‘users should not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission’.”

In consultation with the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Hughes advises drone users that there are Alaska statutes that keep us safe from harassment, stalking, indecent photography, confidential information and that they should be aware that these laws are enforceable whether a person is physically present or using a drone inappropriately. “Just because it’s a drone, don’t assume there are no laws, there are,” Hughes said.

As a general rule of thumb, if you would not be in a certain place or be photographing something in person, you likely shouldn’t be doing it with a drone.

Visit www.alaskadrones.org for safety guidelines in the document “Know Before You Fly” and watch for upcoming information to be provided on personal privacy guidelines.