Drone U Podcast: Is There a First Amendment "Right to Drone"?

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 6 2013 4:03 PM

Drone U Podcast: Is There a First Amendment "Right to Drone"?

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Is the drone the new news chopper?

Photo by YURI GRIPAS/AFP/GettyImages

Every week on Future Tense, we highlight a talk from a leading thinker from Drone U speaking on the topic of what our drone future may look like. Drone U is produced in cooperation with the New America Foundation. (Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University.)

This week, Drone U features a podcast from Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association. Osterreicher examines whether there is a First Amendment “right to drone” and the use of drones for news gathering.

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Osterreicher notes that currently the FAA prohibits the operation of drones by news organizations because it is considered “commercial use,” which won’t be allowed except under special circumstances until late 2015 at the earliest. Even public universities that are simply training students on how to use drones as news gathering tools face FAA restrictions.

In looking at privacy issues on behalf of the National Press Photographers Association, Osterreicher has been a strong advocate of the right to photograph and record in public. However, Osterreicher notes that these First Amendment rights are subject to time, place, and manner restrictions. When the regulations do open up to allow use of drones by news organizations, he expects to see the courts weigh competing interests between the rights of the press to operate these systems and public safety concerns.

Join us on Nov. 13 for the next episode from Drone U.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Timothy Reuter is co-creator of Drone U and the founder of the D.C. Area Drone User Group. He also works on issues of international development.

Nabiha Syed is a media lawyer in New York and a visiting fellow at the Yale Law School Information Society Project.  She is the co-founder of DroneU.

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