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Congressman Predicts Congressional Action On Drones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Recreational users of small drones now have to register them before flying them outdoors, but that may be just the beginning of drone regulation involving airports, stadiums and public places.

Congress will be looking at those issues when they return to Washington in January.

Alan Freed of Harmony Twp., Beaver County, is a recreational drone user and will register his drones as the new FAA regulations require, but he says, "I question whether the people who are using them responsibly ... those are the people that will register them. It's the people that are going to use them irresponsibly who probably won't register them, so I don't know how effective it will be."

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The potential for photography and surveillance where few people can go is obvious, but so too is the potential for crime and terrorism.

For example, Pirates baseball broadcasters last summer noticed a drone flying over PNC Park.

It turned out to be operated by a recreational user, but the potential for a problem caught the attention of Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala, who said then that operating a drone over PNC Park or Heinz Field could bring charges ranging from risking a catastrophe to the use of a weapon of mass destruction to disorderly conduct.

That kind of incident, as well as a report of a drone near the Allegheny County Airport this week, leads Congressman Mike Doyle to predict Congress will look at new legislation next year.

"We just had a gentleman arrested down in Washington D.C. just this past week who was flying it on the mall," Doyle said. "You just can't have that, and so I think we need to think about spaces where drones can't be flown -- around public facilities, stadiums and airports and things like that -- and just really give some thought to how we're going to do this... and I think it's something we're going to be looking at much more closely when we go back in January, just given all the concern there is with homeland security."

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Under FAA rules now in effect, recreational drone users must provide only basic information: name, address and email address.

Commercial users must provide information about serial number and manufacturer, as well as the basic information recreational users provide.

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