WMU-Cooley Homeland & National Security Law Review hosts Drone Law Symposium

LANSING– WMU-Cooley Law School’s Homeland and National Security Law Review (HNSLR) hosted national drone experts during a virtual Drone Law Symposium on Nov. 10.

WMU-Cooley Homeland and National Security Law LL.M. candidate Kati Komorosky moderated the panel discussion on the use and operations of small drones known as small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). Presenters included Gary Watson, VP Solutions, Fortem Technology; Kathryn Rattigan, Attorney, Robinson & Cole LLP; Rick Conklin, Reeder, Platcha & Murphy; and Colin W. Maquire, WMU-Cooley professor of Homeland and National Security Law Programs.

Watson shared the limitations and laws in the drone-encounter world.

While introducing the FAA regulations and requirements for drone users, Watson said, “Drone law seems to me the most misunderstood and area of law where people have completely wrong ideas about what they are and are not allowed to do.”

Rattigan spoke about data privacy and cyber-security in drone law.

“Drones really are another tool that’s collecting data. With all of the technological advancement, … we don’t have any specific laws that applies to drones or the technology that you are using,” says Rattigan when reflecting on how her practice has become involved with this sector of law. “When we collect data, or when we’re transmitting data or when we’re flying,… that is part of safety to me, and that falls on the privacy and security piece.”

As an owner of a drone company and law student, Conklin spoke about reducing liability for drone pilots. He describes how easy it is to register your drone, and explained that once drone usage is commercialized, the pilot must then complete the Part 107 license course. When looking at pilot liability, the main challenges he has found that pilots face is trying to understand the laws of an industry that is trying to find itself – what the laws should be and who should be implementing them.

Maguire covered Congress’ Counter UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Act, officially titled the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, which grants the Department of Homeland Security the ability to disrupt or remove UAS from the sky. “The law passed just to start testing [legal framework] in 2018 legally, and hopefully we have some results in 2022. And you’ll see that consistently throughout sUAS laws that Congress has passed that the testing piece is required and authorized for various types of activities. We’re really still at that stage, and that’s why I think it’s such an exciting and growing area of the law.” Maguire says that this Act is a major player in many active cases that are being reviewed in Circuit Courts.

“This event was the first symposium hosted by the law school’s Homeland and National Security Law Review. We are honored to have had some of the most recognized attorneys in the field of drone law share their knowledge with those in attendance,” said Komorosky. “We look forward to continuing these important conversations about national security.”

WMU-Cooley’s LL.M. in Homeland and National Security was the first such program introduced in the United States and was developed by former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Strategy, Prevention and Mission Assurance and current WMU-Cooley Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel. The program includes study in air and transportation security, border security, military operations in the homeland, intelligence and privacy issues, technology and cybersecurity, as well as practical courses on federal contracting and administrative agencies.

The full presentation can be viewed at WMU-Cooley’s YouTube channel.