Publication Date



A new player in American airspace, the drone, creates greater opportunities for news gathering. But with new opportunities, come new rules. Current legislatures, regulators and courts face the challenge of creating and enforcing a legal framework by which this new technology can be integrated into American airspace. The debate surrounding proper drone directives is influenced by competing policies of privacy, security, and First Amendment concerns. This Note surveys past and present state and federal directives on drone use, and argues for the creation of a separate set of guidelines for Press drones. Separate directives would ensure that news outlets are able to utilize innovative drone technology to promote their societal goals: informing the public and acting as a check on government. Beyond these public goods, the implications of the inclusion of the Press Clause in the First Amendment, suggests that severe restriction on Press news gatheringcould beg a First Amendment violation. In the wake of First Amendment challenges over state drone laws and FAA directives, this Note suggests several practical ways in which legislators and regulators can walk the fine line between American privacy, and violating the First Amendment right of the Press to gather news. These proposals include narrowing the definition of the Press, implementing a credential system to determine who will be considered part of the Press and finally, encouraging press pooling over dangerous or public areas. Distinct drone laws for the Press and the public could avoid First Amendment violations, and stand the test of time.