Privacy Nightmare: Own a Drone? FAA Wants Your Credit Card Number

Oh goodie. The FAA has announced its ultra-rushed plan for a drone registry -- they desperately wanted to get this on the books before Christmas. It's worse than even the most vocal critics had anticipated:

Over the next 60 days, the FAA is requiring that anyone who flies drones outside (other than very small toy drones) must register on a web site (in theory paper-based filing is possible, but the FAA obviously anticipates most registrations to be over the web).

The FAA is also demanding your credit card number before you fly. In fact, they demand $5 via credit card every three years. Forever.

Even though the signup fee is waived for the first 30 days after Dec. 21 this year, the government still requires your credit card number for "verification" purposes. And because, hey, government agencies can never have enough credit card numbers on file.

No need to worry though, right? All that required personal information -- name, physical/mailing address, credit card data, email address, etc. will be in the warm embrace of a "third party contractor" who no doubt will take really good care of it to meet the abysmal security and privacy practices of the federal government.

The black hat hackers are already salivating over this one. Home addresses! Credit cards! "Hey comrade, do they ship Porsches to Moscow?"

Speaking of privacy, the FAA discussion of the privacy practices for this massive new database of personal information can best be described as exceedingly vague. Clearly it will be searchable on demand by various entities. Who exactly? For what purposes? What can they then do with the information obtained? Who the hell knows?

My guess is that illicit credentials for accessing aspects of this database will be floating around the Net faster than you can say "Danger, Will Robinson!"

The FAA admits that "bad actors" -- you know, the "drone terrorists" we keep being warned about or irresponsible drone pilots -- aren't likely to accurately register or to register at all. But hey, $5 and a bundle of personal info from all the honest drone owners every three years is a pretty good haul anyway. And it makes the government look like it's doing something about drone safety when in reality their plan isn't likely to prevent a single drone accident (or attack).

This is government operating in its maximal disingenuous mode -- creating massive new problems instead of presenting realistic proposals for solving genuine existing problems.

But we expected no less.

Oh, there is some good news. The FAA says you don't have to register your Frisbee.

Now isn't that nice?

Be seeing you.

I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so.
My opinions expressed here are mine alone.

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones

Email me when people reply –


  • @Darius Jack. @L.

    FAA says you don't have to register your Frisbee. However, FAA is considering applying drone regs to 'Roomba' vacuum cleaner when used outdoors unless you are a university involved in research for DARPA.
    • @Coastwise,

      believe or not but my Robot vaccum cleaner by another manufacturer comes with

      3 sonars, IR radar, 4 laser led distance sensors, 2 bumber impact switches not to mention UV lamp and 1 sonar and IR sender with charging station,

      so it really deserves registration as highly innovative robot product.

      Unfortunately, it cannot fly as an aircraft yet.

    • Darius Jack,     All I can say is you damned well better not be seen outdoors with that rig unless you have that all-important piece of paper Mr Foxx gave you.

      As long as you have that paper on your person and aren't wearing any type of goggles including prescription sun goggles such as we elderly folk wear,  we'll overlook that you have used a black magic marker to write your registration number where it would be clearly seen, right on the tippity top of your SOLO. 

  • I have enclosed the text of the FAA press release, as a pilot I subscribe to FAA releases, the important part is registration is free for the first 30 days.

    Following is the FAA release:

    FAA Announces Small UAS Registration Rule
    Notice Number: NOTC6328

    Press Release – For Immediate Release

    December 14, 2015
    Contact: Les Dorr or Alison Duquette
    Phone: (202) 267-3883

    Registration will be free for the first 30 days!

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced a streamlined and user-friendly web-based aircraft registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.

    The Registration Task Force delivered recommendations to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on November 21. The rule incorporates many of the task force recommendations.

    “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

    Registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all aircraft.  Under this rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, web-based system.  Owners using the new streamlined web-based system must be at least 13 years old to register.

    Owners may register through a web-based system at:

    Registrants will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft.

    Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years.

    The normal registration fee is $5, but in an effort to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016).

    “We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” said FAA Administrator Huerta. “Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.”

    The online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation – for example, using an unmanned aircraft in connection with a business. The FAA is developing enhancements that will allow such online registrations by spring of 2016.

    The full rule can be viewed here:

    For questions regarding this notice, contact Ken Kelley, AFS-850 by email at or by telephone at (775) 858-7700 Ex 258.

    This notice is being sent to you because you selected "General Information" in your preferences on If you wish to adjust your selections, log into where you can update your preferences.

    • Said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx: “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely."

      Under this rule,"any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016."...............

      ...Two questions.....

      1). How the hell does my presenting my name and address make me a safer pilot? Does FAA think that because I'll be nervous about being under their scrutiny I will be a better pilot?

      2). Is this like the Selective Service Commission where I have to present myself for registration even if I no longer wish to join the Army?
      If I flew a recreational drone on a sunny day three months ago but have become throughly discouraged by new FAA regs and don't plan to drone again, the FAA nonetheless requires me to register? Is that where either the $27000 or $250000 penalty comes in? Can I change my mind when the first warm days of spring come 'round?

      As an old 'life after gravity' droner once said, 'Droning is hard'.

      Joe Homer
    • I have invited John Goglia, prominent crash detective to join

      Peer To Drone Crash Investigators Project

      It is not smart to sue FAA in federal court to generate failed case.

      Mediation with congressman, senator works better since you get real professional legal support.

      FAA sUAS Register is not public searcheable register what can be easily verified.

      Case lost.

      Problem is AMA didn't support this case, having plans to still get exemption from FAA sUAS compulsory registration for its members.

      Your choice is:  $50 AMA registration or $5 registration with FAA

      More than 1 organization should represent modellers, small aicraft operators, hobbyists to qualify to get exempted ( vide.  CoCa-Cola vs. Pepsi  antitrust law case).

      Small model aircraft registration legislation by FAA went globe-wide with great success.

      Registration process is easy, fast for anyone.

      As f.IT forensic expert I have spent 5 years with general election team for

      President Barack Obama and I can assure you,  mediation works better

      than getting FAA sued in federal court.

      Better pay $5 small drone tax with FAA and sleep well than risk any fine. 

    • The fee is waived for 30 days, but you must still provide a chargeable credit card number.

    • You are correct for online registration you are charged $5, and then are credited $5 here is a link to the registration FAQS:

    • And you read this where?

This reply was deleted.