Fla. Man Wins More FAA Docs on Suspicious Drone

     (CN) – A Florida man who fears that he has been followed by a flying drone is entitled to more documents from the Federal Aviation Administration, a federal court ruled.
     David Elkins saw an aircraft over his home in St. Petersburg in July 2013. It appeared to him that the aircraft was circling his home and following him.
     Thinking he was being watched by the government, he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA to discover more information about the aircraft.
     This wasn’t Elkins’ first experience with the FAA, as he had been seeking similar records since 2005. He has stated that he wants to expose illegal government surveillance.
     The FAA gave Elkins voice recordings from the Tampa Airport with the aircraft registration number redacted. Dissatisfied with this response, Elkins sued the FAA in the D.C. district court.
     The FAA’s attempt to dismiss the case failed, with the court ruling that the agency had not justified its search or properly explained its withholdings.
     In response, the FAA released one more record to Elkins, but stated that it would not identify who was controlling the drone or reveal records of its flight patch.
     U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled on Thursday that FAA Special Operation liaison Carol Might did not reveal agreements between the FAA and local law-enforcement agencies to withhold records.
     “If responsive records can exist, however, then presumably there is a place Might could search to find it – a search she must describe,” Boasberg wrote.
     The judge also stated that the FAA’s explanation of its withholdings was “laconic to say the least.”
     He also ruled that the FAA has not proven that the voice recordings and flight-tracking information was exempt because it was compiled for law-enforcement purposes.
     However, Boasburg ruled that the FAA had properly justified its withholding of the FAA order identifying who controlled the plane.
     “The order was indisputably created for law-enforcement purposes,” he wrote. “Its production would disclose techniques and procedures for law-enforcement activities, and disclosure would risk circumvention of the law.”

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