Over the past year, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has held a series of meetings to discuss best practices for privacy, accountability and transparency in the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by commercial and private users. During the process, a coalition of news media organizations, including the News Media Alliance, have stressed that any best practices must not encroach on their First Amendment rights to report news and should also not interfere with their ability to photograph public spaces.
Recently, a substantial number of stakeholders reached consensus on a best practices draft that contains voluntary privacy guidelines. The consensus clearly states that its voluntary best practices do not apply to newsgatherers and news organizations. News media may use UAS in “the same manner as any other comparable technology to capture, store, retain and use data or images in public spaces. Newsgatherers and news reporting organizations should operate under the ethics rules and standards of their organization, and according to existing federal and state laws.”
The document recognizes that the benefits of UAS are substantial and that UAS integration will have a positive economic impact in the United States. As stated earlier, the best practices do not create a legal or regulatory standard, but are simply voluntary.
The protections for news organizations have led to the endorsement of the draft by the News Media Coalition (Including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Gannett Co., Inc., Reuters, Univision, and Getty Images, Inc.), the News Media Alliance, and the National Association of Broadcasters.
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.