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Drone Makers Issue First Industry-Wide Code Of Conduct

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WASHINGTON -- The group representing the industry that manufactures unmanned drones released its first-ever code of conduct Monday.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which represents the fast-growing drone industry and has already spent millions lobbying lawmakers, said its new two-page code "is built on three specific themes: Safety, Professionalism, and Respect." It said the document was meant to provide manufacturers and users -- which will soon include thousands of domestic law enforcement and first responder agencies -- "a convenient checklist for operations and a means to demonstrate their obligation to supporting the growth of our industry in a safe and responsible manner."

"The emergence of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as a resource for a wide variety of public and private applications quite possibly represents one of the most significant advancements to aviation, the scientific community, and public service since the beginning of flight," the code says.

"The future of UAS will be linked to the responsible and safe use of these systems," the code continues. "Our industry has an obligation to conduct our operations in a safe manner that minimizes risk and instills confidence in our systems."

The guidelines are voluntary and, given rising privacy concerns from civil liberties groups, vague.

Under the category of "respect," the code says, "We will respect the privacy of individuals" and "We will respect the concerns of the public as they relate to unmanned aircraft operations." There is no mention of protecting privacy or answering public concerns.

"We are expressing our commitment as an industry to using [drones] in a safe and responsible manner," said AUVSI spokeswoman Melanie Hinton in an email to The Huffington Post. "These guidelines are consistent with [the] collaborative approach the industry has taken to date with regard to privacy and other issues. For example, we’ve met with nearly a dozen privacy advocates and civil liberties organizations, representatives from the pilot community, air traffic controllers and others with a stake in privacy and safety issues – and we will continue to do so as the FAA rulemaking process continues to unfold."

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