On July 7, the Alliance joined comments drafted by the National Press Photographers Association in response to the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) proposed rules relating to drone use in New York City. NYPD is proposing to amend its rules to create a procedure by which members of the public can submit applications to launch or land an unmanned aircraft, including a “drone”, within New York City. The comments outline the potential First Amendment implications of the proposed rules, including, for example, that the 30-day advance application submission requirement will prevent journalists from covering breaking news. The proposed rules do not provide a time limit within which the City must approve or deny applications, nor a timeframe within which the City must respond to an appeal when a permit application is denied. The application also requires a non-refundable $150.00 fee, which may be beyond the economic reach of many independent journalists. The comments argue that the application process is unconstitutional as it is too burdensome and costly; essentially foreclosing the use of drones for most journalistic purposes. While the Alliance supports the development of safe drone journalism practices, any rules or regulations must also provide strong First Amendment protections for news and magazine journalists. Read more.
Charlotte McBirney is Senior Counsel and Director, Public Policy for the News/Media Alliance.