Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action

ISPLA Report on Drones at IASIR, FAA and Congress

19 Nov 2015 7:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Investigative & Security Professionals:

During November 10-13 in New Orleans I had the pleasure as the sole elected board member representing the private investigative profession's interests to attend the annual meeting and conference "Regulation in the Eye of the Storm" of  the International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators.

Additionally, I was a moderator and presenter addressing the subjects of Unmanned Aerial Systems or UAS (commonly called Drones) and the current legal/licensing status of Trustify, formerly known as FlimFlam, a company claiming to be nothing more than an App based electronic referral platform connecting consumers with vetted and licensed private investigators. More on Trustify in a subsequent piece. This article will concentrate on the commercial use of drones by investigative and security professionals. The issues surrounding the use of drones and the emergence of a "Uber PI" type business plans could be viewed as disrupters in our profession.

IASIR is an association representing state and provincial regulators from the U.S., Canada and the United Arab Emirates having governmental jurisdiction over private investigators and security, alarm and armored car companies. ISPLA board members Jim Olsen and Nicole Bocra Gray were also speakers on "When Disaster Strikes: The Investigator's Role" and "Using Social Media."

The Federal Aviation Administration has deemed commercial use of UAS or drones without first obtaining a special waiver under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FAA Act) to be illegal and subject to a $10,000 fine per violation. However, for recreational use of drones, Section 336 of the FAA Act has established that as long as the drone is "operated in accordance with community based guidelines, weighs 55lbs or less, does not interfere with manned aircraft, and avoids flying within five miles of an airport unless certain notice is given, then such use is legal.

Thus far, at least one licensed private investigator has been granted a waiver from the FAA to operate a drone for commercial purposes. However, most waivers have been granted to the motion picture and TV film industry, real estate businesses, aerial photographers, agriculture and forestry purposes and pipeline inspection firms. 

Pilots have reported a thousand incidents of near-misses with drones. Drones have hindered firefighters and rescue operations; a drone operator was killed in a New York City park when his UAS landed on his head and the propellers removed the top of his skull; and a Moslem man in Connecticut pled guilty to an attempted act of terrorism in planning a drone attack with explosives against that state's capitol building in Hartford and undertaking a similar plan against Harvard University.  

UAS sales, according to the Consumer Electronics Association are estimated to top 700,000 for recreational drones alone, a 63 percent increase over last year. On October 18, 2015, the FAA announced that it will require all drones, commercial and recreational, to be registered. Rulemaking  is presently in the works on this with recommendations scheduled to be completed by November 20, 2015. The FAA is also working to enact additional rules with regard to commercial drone use to be finalized in June 2016.

One should keep in mind that there are also state laws relative to privacy issues and trespass on property. Intrusion upon secion and publication of private facts are tort causes of action with respect to protecting privacy. Thus far forty-five states have considered 165 bills regarding drones in 2015.

On November 19, 2015  House Committee on Energy and Commerce  held a hearing entitled "The Disrupter Series: The Fast-Evolving Uses and Economic Impacts of Drones." In an opening statement one House member estimated that one million drones are expected to be sold in the Christmas season this year. Below are links to testimony taken at the hearing, if interested.

Opening Statements: 

Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess (M.D.)


Joshua M. Walden

  • Senior Vice President
  • General Manager, New Technology Group
  • Intel Corporation
  • Witness Testimony (CV)

John Villasenor

Brian Wynne

Margot Kaminski

- See more at: The Disrupter Series: The Fast-Evolving Uses and Economic Impacts of Drones | Energy & Commerce Committee

We will continue to keep our colleagues apprised of further developments on UAS regulations of the FAA and proposed federal and state legislation affecting such use by investigative and security professionals. Please consider donating to ISPLA to assist us in our continuing mission at:

Thank you for supporting ISPLA.

Bruce H. Hulme, CFE, BAI

ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

Resource to Investigative and Security Professionals  




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