Commercial drones have been a major problem for federal regulators for a while now, especially since they can’t seem to find an acceptable, yet effective way to go about regulating them. However, the Department of Transportation has started the process of writing up some commercial drones rules that would require the owners of such drones to register them with the federal government, something that has drawn a lot of criticism from the public, who’re worried about the potential consequences of such rules.
Federal regulators are eyeing the drone industry. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a task force charged with setting the new rules around mandatory registration for some commercial drones. The yet-to-be-determined rules have drone enthusiasts and lobbyists worried about what regulations could do to the nascent industry. Reports indicate that mandatory registration is created primarily so that law enforcement can hunt down operators who cause public safety violations, like recent drone crashes at sporting events or those buzzing dangerously close to commercial airliners. If a drone is recovered at a crash site, a registration number will make it easier to find the culprit. So, what’s to worry about simple registration? I asked experts about the worst-case scenario, to see if all the handwringing was justified. They mentioned several. One of the consensus concerns was overburdening consumers. Make it too cumbersome for a parent to buy their child a flying toy, and they’ll just buy something else. “There is the risk that this a federal registry could be bad for the industry overall by being overly broad, e.g. requiring every kid with a toy drone to be on a federal list,” said Daniel Castro, vice president of industry lobby The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. “If we make it too hard for users to have these devices, they won’t buy them.”