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White House aims to promote economic competitiveness in domestic use of unmanned aircraft systems

The White House has issued a Presidential Memorandum to promote economic competitiveness and innovation while safeguarding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties in the domestic use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The Presidential Memorandum builds on efforts already underway to integrate UAS into the national airspace system (NAS). The Federal Aviation Administration authorized the testing of UAS at six sites around the country in December 2013 as part of its efforts to safely integrate UAS into the NAS, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

UAS are a potentially transformative technology in diverse fields such as agriculture, law enforcement, coastal security, military training, search and rescue, first responder medical support, critical infrastructure inspection, and many others.

The Memorandum requires Federal agencies to ensure that their policies and procedures are consistent with limitations set forth in the Memorandum on the collection and use, retention, and dissemination, of information collected through UAS in the NAS.

It also requires agencies to ensure that policies are in place to prohibit the collection, use, retention, or dissemination of data in any manner that would violate the First Amendment or in any manner that would discriminate against persons based upon their ethnicity, race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, in violation of law.

In addition, it includes requirements to ensure effective oversight in addition to provisions to promote transparency, including a requirement that agencies publish information within one year describing how to access their publicly available policies and procedures implementing the Memorandum.

Recognizing that technologies evolve over time, the Memorandum also requires agencies to examine their UAS policies and procedures prior to the deployment of new UAS technology, and at least every three years, to ensure that protections and policies keep pace with developments.

Consistent with these objectives, it also requires the Department of Commerce, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and in consultation with other interested agencies, to initiate a multi-stakeholder engagement process within 90 days to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning the commercial and private use of UAS in the NAS.

 

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