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CES 2019: Technology-specific privacy laws become obsolete fast, warns AT&T exec

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CES 2019: Technology-specific privacy laws become obsolete fast, warns AT&T exec

At a Jan. 10 CES panel on drone policy, an AT&T Inc. executive warned that drone and other technology-specific privacy laws quickly become obsolete.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states have enacted laws pertaining to the use of unmanned aircraft, with privacy elements ranging from warrant requirements for drone use by law enforcement agencies to privacy protections from nongovernment operators.

Those quickly can become "very outdated,” warned Kimberly Darrin, director of public policy at AT&T, adding "we absolutely like the idea of a uniform and harmonized approach."

Darrin also believes that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission can do more in helping drone technology flourish. Specifically, she believes that the commission can lift a restriction on operating cellular telephones on airborne devices in the 850 MHz band.

AT&T has previously lobbied the FCC to lift this restriction by arguing that it would allow them to facilitate better testing of network performance and enhance its ability to restore communications after a natural disaster. AT&T, for instance, used a drone to provide cellular service to some in Puerto Rico who lost wireless service in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The company also uses drones to assist cell-tower inspectors in identifying where network updates and repairs are needed on the towers.

Additional coverage from CES 2019:

Viacom CEO waves off CBS merger, says car is next content catalyst

Tech policy execs call for privacy, infrastructure reform to boost 5G

IBM taps crowd-sourced data streams to better predict the weather

LG teases 5G phone, rollable TV

Samsung teases 5G phone, touts leadership in the burgeoning technology