New Jersey journalists oppose bill that would limit access to drone data

Transient

When we talk about drone journalism at dronejournalism.org, we're usually referring to journalists using unmanned systems to collect pictures, video, and data from the sky. A recent concern among drone journalists, at least in the United States, is that reporters might be grounded by restrictive state and local laws, specifically the kind that took effect in Texas last year.

But a bill that has come before the New Jersey legislature has journalists concerned about being blocked from access to data obtained from government drones - namely, law enforcement and first responders.

Under a newly-added section in Bill A-4073, state agencies would be forbidden from making public any information gathered from their drones.

The New Jersey Press Association have come out against that part of the law, according to reports in the Asbury Park Press and the North Jersey's The Record. citing concerns that the public would be blocked from vital information,  which could endanger "health, safety and property."

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that, as part of a collaboration with Virginia Tech Rutgers University, and the University of Maryland, New Jersey's Pinelands would  be home to a test site range for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

In November, FAA issued its privacy policy for UAS test sites (PDF), which stated that test sites must have written plans on how they manage data collected from their drones, and must meet annually with the public about their privacy concerns.

Besides those mandates, the FAA left the issue of privacy up to the states.

Posted on January 6, 2014 .