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Drone Federalism: Civilian Drones and the Things They Carry

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: Civilian drones are scheduled to be permitted in the national airspace as early as 2015. Many think Congress should be charged with establishing the necessary nationwide regulations to govern drone use. That thinking, however, is wrong. This Essay suggests drone federalism instead: a state-based approach to the privacy regulation that governs drone use by civilians, drawing on states’ experience regulating other forms of civilian-on-civilian surveillance. This approach will allow necessary experimentation in how to best balance privacy concerns against First Amendment rights in the imminent era of drone-use democratization. This Essay closes by providing some guidance to states as to the potential axes of drone-related privacy regulations.

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