We been keeping you informed of the ongoing saga of drone registration, and now there's a new chapter. Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration decided it was going to have drone owners register their crafts. After getting some recommendations from a number of groups, it finally released its final rules last week (although the public can comment on these rules for 30 days, starting today).
At their most basic, the rules seemed straightforward: Give the FAA your name, email address, physical address and $5 (refunded if you register within the first 30 days). In return you'd get a registration number good for three years that you would have to put on your drones. In the event that your drone breaks the law, law enforcement can find you. Obviously, many people aren't happy about this, but there's now information that is going to make them even less happy.
John Goglia over at Forbes noticed a discrepancy between the FAA's information and the Department of Transportation's information. The FAA's documents said that names and address on the registry wouldn't be available to anyone aside from the FAA, the contractor building the registration website and law enforcement.
However, the DOT issued a notice indicated that names on the drone registry would be added to the Aircraft Registry, which is available to the public. After a go-around with the FAA, Goglia confirmed that at launch names in the drone registry won't be publicly available, but will be in the future.
That means if you have a drone's registration number, you'll eventually be able to look up the owner's name and physical address. Depending on how the system is set up, it could also let a hacker trying random numbers get the entire database, which will include names and address of minors (the age cutoff for registration is 13 years old).
In response, the Academy of Model Aeronautics says it is doing everything it can to stop the registry. For now it's telling its members not to register until it's made its attempt.
Unfortunately, the fines for flying a drone without a registration number can reach $27,000. Fortunately, if you already own a drone, you have until February 19, 2016, to register. Anyone buying a drone after today, however, has to register it before flying. The exception is if the drone has a flight weight less than 8.8 oz (250 grams). That exempts most small drones, such as the ones we sell in our store.
What do you think of the FAA's plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.