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Public Agencies Request Thousands of Dollars for Drone Records

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US News
March 19. 2013

If you want to know what Georgia Tech University is doing to make their drones fly, you better have deep pockets. Georgia Tech is one of many public agencies that are asking for thousands of dollars in order to release document related to their research and testing of drones.

According to open government nonprofit organizationMuckRock, which, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is compiling a “drone census” of public agencies that are using unmanned aerial vehicles, many agencies have been less than forthcoming with details of their drone use.

Since June 2012, groups have filed Freedom of Information Act requests with 375 different public agencies across the country pertaining to drones. Some of the requests have been fruitful: Documents uncovered by MuckRock revealed that Austin and San Francisco law enforcement agencies were considering purchasing unmanned aerial vehicles, and a FOIA request sent to the Georgia Tech police department showed that they planned on flying surveillance drones during football games.

But nearly a quarter of requests have gone unanswered, others have been rejected, and at least 16 public agencies have requested payment in return for the records.

Though Freedom of Information laws vary from state to state, for the most part, public organizations are allowed to charge for labor involved in tracking down records and a fee per photocopied page. The fee is often waived for groups or individuals, such as journalists or nonprofit groups, who contend that they are asking for the records as a public service.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

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