This past week, U.S. The government has made the largest, most effective set of changes to drone law we’ve ever seen – ruling that U.S. Almost every drone in airspace will need to broadcast their locations as well as the location of their pilots, “taking into account safety, national security and law enforcement concerns regarding the further integration of these aircraft into United States airspace.”
Google (technically, Alphabet) is not very happy about the new rules, as it turned out. The wing of the company’s drone delivery subsidiary wrote something scary Reuters), Entitled “Broadcast only remote identification of drones may have unintended consequences for American consumers”, arguing that the decision to broadcast the drone’s location could allow observers to track your movements, wherever you go, where you are and where you are. What might he find? And when you receive packages, along with other examples.
“The American community will not accept this kind of supervision of their delivery or taxi trips on this route. They should not accept it in the sky, ”Wing argues.
With that kind of language, you think the wing is arguing that drones should not transmit their location, yes? Ironically, the Alphabet subsidiary simply wants to send it via the Internet instead of broadcasting it locally. I think of my ex CNET Fellow Ian Sher’s tweet is appropriate:
I was surprised – shocked – that the FAA, a company being investigated for distrust concerns over its abuse of power on the Internet, would recommend scrapping its new radio-frequency ID program for Internet-based tracking. https://t.co/d6VNMPapth
– Ian Sher (@ Eicher) December 31, 2020
Internet-based tracking is exactly what the FAAA originally did when it originally proposed remote ID rules in December 2019, by the way – before it received laundry lists from commenters for what Internet-based tracking might be problematic. Decided to leave him. Here are just a few of the ones mentioned:
- The cost of adding a cellular modem to the drone to get started
- Cost of payment for monthly cellular data plan for drone flying only
- Lack of reliable cellular coverage across the US
- The cost of paying a third-party data broker to track and store that data
- The possibility of breach of that third-party data broker
- It is a data broker or network U.S. In drones, the possibility of getting DDOSD
If you want to read the whole argument for yourself, the FAA puts all the objections on its internet based remote ID in its complete rule (PDF) starting from 60 on its page and spends 15 pages considering it.
Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that the FAA felt that it had to “broadcast its location to everyone” and that “everyone has to pay the private industry and some data brokers have to trust their location.” But the reasons why we don’t go with internet based tracking mean something to me.
Most proponents of remote ID technology, including the wing, want to explain that it is just a “license plate” for the sky, nothing more aggressive than you already have on your car. Here is the wing:
This allows drones to be identified by flying without sharing the entire flight path or flight history of the drone, and that information, which may be more sensitive, is not displayed in public and is only available for law enforcement if they have proper credentials. And one reason for the need for that information.
But the thing about license plates is that traditionally, you have to stay inside the eyeshot to see it. You have to take a physical step to track it. That is not necessarily true of the broadcasting transmitter and it is possible Away Less true of a wing-like Internet-based solution, the FAAA seems to have provided instead. Naturally, it depends on who owns the internet based solution and how much you trust them and their security.
Either way, before we know how secure or sensitive it is, it will take some time to figure out how wide or narrow these remote ID transmissions really are. That’s because the FAA’s final rule doesn’t really dictate what kind of broadcasting tech drones will need to be used: companies have estimates for next year and two and a half, and they have to submit them to the FAA for approval. The FAA also makes it clear that Broadcast Remote ID is the first step, an “initial framework”, suggesting that Internet-based Remote ID may still be an option in the future.