Drone and Privacy Laws: Remote Pilot’s Guide to Flying Legally

Understanding the drone and privacy laws are key to having a fun time flying your quadcopter. The drones are widely used for pretty much everything from recreational flying to producing aerial shots for commercial use. Some industries like public services use drones to collect data such as analyzing traffic jams and infrastructure to improve our quality of life.

But before you start flying your drone, be aware that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have regulations and rules in place that protect the rights of drone owners and those around them. According to the FAA, the total number of drones is expected to increase from 1.2 million to 1.4 million by 2023. This indicates strong interest in flying drones. Consequently, there are drone regulations that govern from flying your drone and privacy laws.

Register Your Drone for Recreational Flying

Register Your Drone with FAA

If you want to fly your drone for recreational purposes, you need to register your quadcopter with the FAA. Registering your drone will only cost $5 before you start its first flight.

In order to register your drone, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Drones must weight more than 0.55 lbs and no more than 55 lbs.
  • Registered drone is valid for three years and must be renewed afterwards.
  • Registered serial number must be visibly placed on the drone.
  • If you own a fleet of drones, you only need to register once.

The identification number ensures you are flying legally and complies to the FAA regulations in the United States. Drones that weigh more than 55 lbs. needs to be registered via mail and requires more paperwork.

Registering your drone that weighs more than 0.55 lbs ensures you follow the FAA rules as it concerns regulations relating to drone and privacy laws. For guidance on how to become a great remote pilot, visit our drone tips on dos and don’ts.

Flying Drones for Commercial Purpose

Drone and Privacy Laws Guide

If you fly your drones commercially, the rules are different. Aerial stills and videos fall under the category of using drones to make a profit. Which means you need to take and pass unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Part 107 exam in order to fly for commercial purposes legally.

You need at least 70% grading to pass the exam before you can make any money with your drones. Other than taking pictures and videos with your drone, real estates, film production, weddings, and events are considered commercial and must have a valid Part 107 certificate.

Before hiring a remote pilot, make sure they have a valid Part 107 license. Without a valid certificate, the remote pilot and you can land in hot water with the FAA if someone reports to the FAA or if they find out through investigation. It’s smart to play safe than being sorry.

Flying Drones for Protection

Best Drone and Privacy Laws

Having a drone for surveillance purposes to enhance your home security might sound a bit overkill. But the information that these drones gather is far more valuable than someone who rings the doorbell.

Several home security industries specialize in UAVs that are equipped with sensors which detect movement. When these sensors detect movements, they will ping alerts to the homeowners. Then the station deploys a drone to investigate the area.

Before you use a drone for home security, be sure to discuss flying drone and privacy laws with your neighbors. Sometimes neighbors might feel unease about drones gathering information without their contest. Most of these smart camera drones are programmable to fly within the perimeter of the property with the camera pointing at your house.

For additional information on each individual state’s rules on drone and privacy laws, please refer to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Basic Drone Rules and Regulations

Drone Rules and Privacy Laws

Surprise! There are drone rules and regulations that you need to follow outside of the registration process.

These rules and regulations are basic common sense to ensure safe flying:

  • Always keep eyes on the drone.
  • Be aware of the everchanging airspace.
  • Do not fly any UAVs while under the influence.
  • Do not fly more than 400 feet above the ground level.
  • Do not fly over sport events, including stadiums.
  • Avoid flying near aircraft and airports.
  • Avoid flying over crowded areas and group of people.
  • Flying over the National Parks are banned.

When it comes to flying and you reside with a nearby airport. You can fly your drone if you are outside of the 5 miles radius of an airport. If the drone is close to an airport, be sure to notify the air control tower.

Air Map is an awesome resources website that helps drone owners maintain safe flying. All of the information that Air Map provides is what the aviators need to know for both recreational and commercial purposes.

Responding to Conflicts When Flying

Drone and Privacy Laws

It’s obvious that flying your drones in public places comes with potential conflict with some people. If someone decides to use your drone as a target practice, calling the police is the order of business. Shooting at drones is illegal and can land the offender with hefty fines.

Not everyone shoots down a drone for fun and giggles. Some people believe that spying is happening. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good practice to show them the video to let them know their personal space wasn’t the objective. Always respect the drone privacy laws.

Regardless of the conflict, it is important that you as a remote pilot know when to stay out of trouble. Whenever you are flying in personal or public property, you need to stay within the rights to operate. Private property in general is off-limits. Security guards and property owners have the right to ask the remote pilot to land and leave.

Aerial photographers need to have a copy of The Photographer’s Rights on them at all times as it will protect you from people demanding your drone’s memory cards.

Flying drones should provide enjoyment whether you are doing recreationally or commercially. Knowing how to defuse conflict is important as it will guarantee the best experience for you. Following the FAA drone rules and privacy laws is also important. Temptation to fly over large crowds and events will be there all the time. But avoid making poor judgements as curiosity is both grand and a downfall.

Do you have any questions about flying your drone and privacy laws? Let us know in the comment section below. Stay tuned for more drone news and guides at Dronesfy. Happy flying and fly smart!

Byran Adams

Founder of Dronesfy.com. Drone enthusiast, pilot, writer, entrepreneur, husband married to a beautiful wife with two young sons. Submit a tip to us at tips@dronesfy.com.

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