On Monday, the US FAA will launch its online registry for American drone operators with the aim of collecting personal information from the owners of these unmanned aircraft. But according to a report from Forbes, all those names and addresses will eventually be publicly available. Which seems... kinda scary? Over at Forbes, John Goglia says he's been poking the FAA for answers ever since the FAQ about registration went up. Of particular concern are two contradictory statements from the FAA and DOT. The FAA says only their agency and a contractor will have access to the personal information collected. The DOT says that all information regarding registered aircraft must be made publicly available. So Goglia emailed the FAA until he got this answer:
"Until the drone registry system is modified, the FAA will not release names and address. When the drone registry system is modified to permit public searches of registration numbers, names and addresses will be revealed through those searches."
So basically, once the US government gets its act together (insert government getting its act together joke), you could find a drone's owner and where she lives, just by looking up her registration number.
What's a little unnerving, besides the fact that the government's knee-jerk response to anything is REGISTER EVERYTHING, is the fact that personal information for anyone, even minors, would be made public. And while I fully understand that a few shitheads flying into wildfires made it necessary for the feds to register drones, I'm not sure that I need to know who the drone owners are or where they live, like some kind of sex offender registry. It could lead to some serious vigilante-type behaviour if something goes awry.
Groups like the Academy of Model Aeronautics are trying to stop the registry entirely, but with so many stores already onboard with the program, and so many drones being purchased in the next week before Christmas, it doesn't seem like they have much chance of stopping this now.