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Originally published October 19 2015

Feds to mandate nationwide drone registration

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) For years, states and the federal government have threatened to pass strict rules that regulate the use and flight patterns of drones that have become increasingly prevalent among Americans, as previously reported by Natural News.

Now, the time has finally arrived.

As reported by NBC News, the federal government is stepping up to fill a void of drone-related rules, announcing recently a plan requiring anyone who buys a new drone to register it with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Federal aviation officials have become concerned about rising instances of close calls between commercial and private aircraft and privately operated drones that have been flown close to, and into, some of the country's largest airports.

NBC News further reported:

"In July, there was a dangerously close encounter between a drone and a passenger jet with 159 people aboard setting up to land at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The unmanned aerial vehicle was just 100 feet away from the passenger jet at an altitude of 1,700 feet; normal safe separation distance between aircrafts is at least 1,000 feet."

Hampering official activities

In addition, NBC News reported, privately operated drones have also been blamed for disrupting aerial firefighting efforts over a California fire in July.

In that instance, authorities from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection identified at least five drones flying over the fire zone, causing firefighting aircraft to leave the area for about 20 minutes due to safety concerns.

"We do believe that this affects our firefighting operations. It was very windy yesterday, and any time air operations are halted that affects our ability to put out these fires," Janet Upton, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement to NBC News.

Three of the five drone operators guided their craft away from the zone right away, but the remaining two interfered with efforts to battle out-of-control flames, according to U.S. Forest Service official John Miller.

Under the government's new rules, federal officials will work with drone makers and the industry to establish guidelines and a structure for ensuring drones are registered. Regulations could be in place by the end of the year, the report said.

Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed levying a $1.9 million fine against Chicago drone maker SkyPan for allegedly operating dozens of drones over Chicago and New York since 2012.

States moving to keep drones from being abused

In 2013, Natural News reported that Texas officials were considering new restrictions on drone flights, in response to increasingly invasive drone use by the Obama administration.

Under a measure filed by state Rep. Lance Gooden, a Republican, the bill would essentially outlaw the use of drones over Texas by individuals or by state and federal law enforcement agencies amid mounting privacy concerns.

In an interview with San Antonio radio station WOAI, Gooden said his bill would contain exceptions, but that those would be limited. For instance, it would allow drones within 25 miles of the Rio Grande River for use in interdicting drug smugglers and illegal immigrants. It would also allow use by law enforcement with a valid search or arrest warrant, with "probable cause to believe that a person has committed a felony."

"Do we want our local police departments laying off officers and simply parking drones over our homes to keep an eye on all of us?" Gooden asked.

The lawmaker's bill would also make it illegal to use any image captured with a drone in civil or criminal court proceedings.

"These drones are going to get so cheap that soon you'll be able to buy your own drone at (electronics retail chain) Best Buy," Gooden told the station. "You could park it a foot above the ground in your neighbor's back yard and film into their house. If someone wanted to film your children out playing by the pool and put that video on the Internet, as creepy as that sounds."


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