DC Circuit Shoots Down Drone Regulations: Taylor v. Huerta
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Early last year on Lawfare, Ashley discussed the 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) interim rule “establishing registration and marking requirements for small unmanned aircraft used recreationally—i.e., drones.” The post predicted that state and local laws as well as strong private forces all but guaranteed imminent litigation:
On the one hand, there is widespread frustration among local lawmakers about the leniency of the FAA interim final rule, which does not include any privacy-related protections. On the other hand, the FAA faces strong lobbying by Google, Amazon, and others to keep drone regulations as lenient as possible. As a result, litigation in this space seems virtually certain, as federal and state governments struggle for regulatory control of the hazy area between safety and privacy.
Well, that day has come. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling striking down the FAA’s regulation, though it failed to block an additional notice placing further restrictions on drone flights in the Washington, D.C. area. This post summarizes the initial rules in place along with Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion, and then offers a perspective on where things might go from here.