FAA opens up drone registration database
- By Mark Rockwell
- May 20, 2016
The Federal Aviation Administration has made a large database of the cities, states and ZIP codes of small private drone owners more widely available to the public. The agency made the move in response to a number Freedom of Information Act requests.
In a May 18 statement, the agency said that it would not release owners' names and street addresses, however, because privacy protections exempt that data from release under FOIA. Many of the registrants are minors, hobbyists or recreational users.
The FAA has been collecting the data through the registration system it launched last December for small hobbyist and recreational drones that weigh a half-pound to 55 pounds.
The list made available to the public totals 461,433 registrations.
The registration effort seeks to curb mounting incidents of drones interfering with civilian aviation by operating near airports, at high altitudes or in the vicinity of emergency response aircraft.
The agency had stipulated from the beginning of the registration project that the database would not be searchable by name or address. That information is only available if someone searches by a specific registration number.
Only people with a valid email address and password can access the system, which uses digital certificates and encrypts all information. FAA officials said law enforcement agencies will have access to information to help identify aircraft that are involved in incidents.
Along the same lines, the agency announced on May 17 that it is testing an FBI drone detection system at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after a test in February of a CACI prototype detection system at Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey.
Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
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