The general public will be able to search through a new U.S. drone database, which requires all recreational drone owners to begin registering later this month.
The public will only be able to search the database by using a drone operator’s unique identification number that must be stamped on individual drones.
An industry task force had previously called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to keep the database sealed off from the public by exempting it from the Freedom of Information Act.
Similarly, the Electronic Privacy Information Center had recommended that a commercial drone database be public but that the recreational database only be accessible in limited cases.
The publicly accessible database was announced alongside the FAA’s broader drone registration rules, which require registration for all drones of 55 pounds or less. There will be a $5 registration fee, but that will be waived until Jan. 20.
The FAA will require drone operators to register using their name, physical address and email address. Email addresseses will not be accessible in the publicly searchable database.
“All records maintained by the FAA in connection with aircraft registered are included in the Aircraft Registry and made available to the public, except email address and credit card information,” according to an FAA filing.
The registry for manned aircrafts is already publicly available.
The FAA said it is requiring an email address with registration — something the task force recommended making only optional — so the agency can “quickly disseminate safety and educational materials to these sUAS owners, in furtherance of the FAA’s safety and education objectives for unmanned aircraft operations.”
The FAA will maintain the database and all information will be available to law enforcement, the agency said.
The agency is still determining whether the drone registration information should be maintained indefinitely or whether a retention period should be imposed.