FL Man’s Fight With FAA for Drone Docs Goes On

     (CN) – A Florida man who suspects the government is using aircraft to spy on him may be entitled to additional documents, a federal judge ruled.
     David Elkins saw a plane circling over his house in St. Petersburg, Florida, in May 2014.
     Since that wasn’t the first time it had happened, Elkins believed the government was watching him and a pair of Freedom of Information Act requests with the Federal Aviation Administration.
     He has been filing such requests since 2005, seeking information what he calls “ongoing, long-term, illegal, unwarranted surveillance, specifically focusing on the plaintiff for his continued use of the Freedom of Information Act.”
     Elkins filed his first request on the day he saw the plane, seeking information on who was controlling it.
     His second request came in September 2014, when he asked about communications between the FAA and the FBI, CIA, Justice and Homeland Security departments and other agencies.
     Dissatisfied with the documents he received from the FAA, Elkins filed a lawsuit in October 2014.
     The FAA moved to dismiss the case, arguing that Elkins had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg partially granted the FAA’s motion.
     In his ruling, Boasberg agreed with the FAA that Elkins’ lawsuit was premature because he filed it before the FAA’s time to respond had expired.
     “The consequence of such a ruling is simply to require Elkins to exhaust his administrative remedies with the FAA, which will permit the agency to develop a factual record and apply its expertise and discretion to his request,” Boasberg wrote.
     However, the judge agreed with Elkins that the FAA did not adequately fulfill his second request, regarding communications with other agencies.
     The FAA “failed to aver that it has searched all the locations likely to contain relevant documents,” Boasberg wrote. “Where the government has not made such an attestation, courts have typically found that an issue of material fact exists as to the adequacy of its search.”
     Boasberg issued a similar ruling last month in Elkins’ continued battle with the FAA, finding that the agency’s response to his questions about an aircraft he saw in 2013 was “laconic to say the least.”

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