So Much for Access to Those Drone Records


     (CN) – A federal judge has thought better of his decision to let a Florida man access classified records about the government drone he thinks is tracking him.
     David Elkins has been filing requests with the Federal Aviation Administration over the last decade for information about the aircraft he has observed flying over his St. Petersburg, Fla., home.
     Back in May, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered the FAA to provide Elkins with the radar plot of a high-wing, Cessna-type aircraft that circled his home on the morning of May 27, 2014.
     The FAA moved for reconsideration, stating that the radar plot, which tracks its flight path, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act because it qualifies as “records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes.”
     After reviewing the radar plot in chambers, Boasberg agreed Monday that the FAA can withhold the flight path from Elkins.
     “Since the law-enforcement agency operating the aircraft was compiling data on its own flight track, that data did not lose its protection when forwarded to the FAA,” Boasberg wrote.
     The five-page opinion notes that the FAA “has provided compelling (albeit classified) details about the investigation that release of the radar plot could compromise.” (Parentheses in original.)
     In addition, Boasburg stated that “the specific details of the government agency’s techniques are not well known and, if they were, criminal targets could act in such a manner as to impinge on the effectiveness of the surveillance.”
     A footnote to the opinion notes that the Department of Justice signed off on Boasberg’s opinion before he filed it to ensure that it does not disclose classified information.

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