The US government announced a major change for drone law last week, according to which, almost every drone in US airspace will need to broadcast their locations, along with the location of their pilots. The purpose behind this rule is to “address safety, national security, and law enforcement concerns regarding the further integration of these aircraft into the airspace of the United States”.
Google has responded to the law update and isn’t too happy with the decision. Google’s drone delivery subsidiary Wing published a post that says that the broadcast-only remote identification of drones may have unintended consequences for American consumers, such as letting observers track people’s movements, accessing information such as where they go and live, where and when they receive packages, etc. It further added that this type of surveillance would not be acceptable for American communities.
Although Google has criticized the government’s decision, it’s not like the company is arguing that drones shouldn’t broadcast their location, but is just wishing they’d send it through the internet instead of broadcasting it locally.
Internet-based tracking is something that the FAA had actually intended to do back in December 2019 when it first introduced the Remote ID rules, but decided to abandon the option after commenters proposed reasons internet-based tracking might be problematic. The FAA then presented a 15 pages long list of objections to internet-based Remote ID.
The FAA’s final rule hasn’t, however, stated what kind of broadcasting tech drones will be required to use and has clarified that broadcast Remote ID is just an “initial framework”, which indicates that internet-based Remote ID might still be an option in the future.