The Ongoing Debate Over 3D-Printed Guns

By: Elle Nainstein

With 3D-printing technology on the rise, obtaining a gun may now be as easy as downloading one within the privacy of your own home. To do so, an individual could simply find blueprints for a firearm online, enter the schematics into a 3D printer, and within a matter of days, he or she would have their hands on a fully-functional plastic gun. Policymakers all over the country have been working to prevent this “under the table” method of acquiring firearms, expressing concerns over the fact that no background check is required to download the blueprints and no serial number would exist to trace the gun in the event that it is used to commit a crime.

In 2013, Cody Wilson, owner of the company Defense Distributed, created what is believed to be the first fully 3D-printed gun. After Wilson successfully tested the gun, he uploaded the blueprints to his website so that they would be made publicly available to anyone who might wish to build one. Under the Obama administration, the State Department ordered that the blueprints be taken down, asserting that Wilson’s publication of the blueprints constituted the exporting of weapons without a license. In 2015, Wilson sued the federal government, arguing that barring him from publishing the blueprints inhibited his First Amendment rights. When the case settled under the Trump administration in June 2018, Wilson was granted permission to move forward with publishing his 3D-printed gun blueprints beginning August 1, 2018.

Immediately following the announcement, nineteen states sued to block distribution of the blueprints. On July 31, 2018, US District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle issued a restraining order that halted Wilson’s plans to release 3D-printed gun designs online. On August 27, 2018, Judge Lasnik granted a motion for a preliminary injunction and extended the previous restraining order. “The court finds that the irreparable burdens on the private defendants’ First Amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the states are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn and that, overall, the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo through the pendency of this litigation,” Lasnik wrote.

On August 28, 2018, Wilson announced he would begin selling the blueprints directly to people who want them. According to the ruling, “[r]egulation under the (law) means that the files cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States.” Wilson said that while the preliminary injunction forbade him to share the files online for free, he interpreted the ruling as expressly allowing him to sell them. “Anyone who wants these files is going to get them. I’m gonna sell it to them, I’m gonna ship them. That began this morning,” Wilson said. “That will never be interrupted. The free exchange of these ideas will never be interrupted.”

Less than a month later, on September 25, 2018, Cody Wilson resigned from Defense Distributed after being detained and arrested in Taiwan. According to authorities, Wilson had fled the United States upon learning that he was being investigated for allegedly paying $500 to have sex with an underage girl in Austin, Texas. Wilson was subsequently deported back to the United States and is currently facing sexual assault charges. If found guilty, he faces up to twenty years in prison. Wilson has since been released on bail but has yet to issue a public statement on the matter. As of today, it is unclear how his resignation or the criminal charge will impact Defense Distributed and its role in the debate over 3D-printed guns.


Charles Duan, Copyright Law Could Stop 3-D Printed Guns. Should It?, Lawfare (Aug. 31, 2018, 9:23 AM),

Eric Levenson and Keith Allen, Judge blocks distribution of 3D-printed gun blueprints until case is resolved, CNN (Aug. 27, 2018, 7:41 PM),

Jim Vertuno and Martha Bellisle, 3D-printed gun maker says he’s selling blueprints, despite court order against him, USA Today (Aug. 28, 2018, 7:59 PM),

Eric Levenson, Maker of 3D-printed guns begins selling blueprints, despite court order, CNN (Aug. 28, 2018, 3:45 PM),

Paul J. Weber, Cody Wilson, 3-D Printed Gun Advocate Has Been Jailed in the U.S., Time (Sept. 23, 2018),

3D-printed gun pioneer bailed after sex assault charge, BBC News (Sept. 24, 2018),


Is New EU Policy a Slippery Slope for Freedom of Speech?

By: Cayley Young

Earlier this week, European Union officials released the latest attempt to battle fake news, a uniform “code of practice”. The code outlines specific protocols related to online advertisements consisting of politics or containing political messaging. Protocols address best practices to address campaigns dedicated to misinformation and call for investment in products capable of targeting fake news bots used to cause political turmoil. While adoption of code practices is completely voluntary, the EU is optimistic that key industry players like Google, Facebook, and Twitter will lead the way with full compliance.

Despite good intentions, some are concerned the proposed code will be ineffective and could lead towards unwarranted infringement on personal liberties as media laws in other countries have. For example, Egypt’s rather new media law which prohibits the spread of false news by anyone with a 5,000 follower count on single social media platform has become an issue for many citizens. Recently, the Egyptian government has shifted its focus to stricter enforcement of the law recently in response to the massive impact of fake news on the U.S. presidential election. Although initially proposed to prevent the spread of calculated falsehoods, Egyptian citizens are concerned it is now being used as a channel for government oppression. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the case of several female journalists and tourists deemed in violation of the law after posting videos describing personal experiences of sexual assault while visiting Egypt. The prescribed sentence for a fake news violation is 8 years in prison.

Despite anxieties of the new code creating a slippery slope for freedom of speech, it is unlikely the EU will follow in the footsteps of Egypt. There are several key differences between the Egyptian media law and the uniform code of practice as established by the EU. For one, adherence to the policy completely voluntary, while it’s highly suggested for companies to join, there is no penalty for abstaining. Level of involvement will likely be determined by the behavior of industry leaders, not the threat of harsher government involvement. Additionally, the code is specific to politically motivated posts from bot sources rather than genuine personal accounts. It also focuses primarily on advertisements and is solely targeted towards companies that provide access to news sources online like search engines and social media platforms, not the general public.1 That being said, the new code is less of an attack on free speech, and more of a first stitch effort to unify a fragmented industry against a unique threat.


1. Bryan Koenig, EU Unveils Self-Regulatory Code to Combat Fake News, Law360 (Sept. 26, 2018),

2. Ruth Michaelson, Fake News Becomes Tool of Oppression After Egypt Passes New Law, The Guardian (July 27, 2018),

Alexa Controlled Microwaves: More Privacy Concerns?

By: Nolan Hale

Imagine not knowing how long to cook some type of food, let’s say a potato. You are so busy doing something and you do not want to look it up on your phone or computer. So, you put the potato in the microwave and say, “Alexa, please heat up this potato”. The rest is up to the microwave.

Amazon has recently made this possible in creating a voice-controlled microwave incorporating the “Alexa” technology. One must simply tell the microwave what is in the microwave, “Alexa” will have a conversation with you regarding the weight of the food, and the microwave will heat it up. Additionally, Amazon created a voice-activated clock that can set reminders and timers. However, issues regarding privacy remain in the new voice-controlled microwave.

In May 2018, a woman said her Amazon “Alexa” recorded her private conversation and sent it to a random contact. She felt invaded when a person from 176 miles away received audio files of recordings from inside her house. While Amazon stated that was an extremely rare occasion, Amazon does not even seem to be addressing it. On September 20, 2018, Amazon held a press event introducing the Alexa-powered microwave and Alexa gadget in cars. During the press event, the Amazon executive did not mention any privacy concerns in their products.

There are likely more products coming out that can be voice activated like ovens, televisions, and possibly every appliance in the house. There will likely be remote ways to activate things in your home through voice-command technology. Amazon needs to address these privacy concerns because as technology continues to grow, privacy concerns are bound to as well.


Heather Kelly, Amazon wants Alexa everywhere, CNN (last visited Sep. 22, 2018),

Jason Del Rey, Amazon’s blockbuster Alexa event made zero mention of privacy concerns–and that may say more about us than about them, Recode (last visited Sep 20, 2018),

Gary Horcher, Woman says her Amazon device recorded private conversation, sent out to random contact, Kiro 7 (last visited May 25, 2018),

Suit Brought Against Apple By Visually Impaired

By: Emily Aziz

On August 19, 2018, a class action suit was brought against Apple Inc. (“Apple”) in New York federal court. Plaintiff Himelda Mendez, and other visually impaired and legally blind persons who require reading software to read website content, claim that Apple’s website is in violation of the Plaintiff’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

The ADA, which became law in 1990, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, such as blindness, in the public sphere. This includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private spaces that are open to the general public. This act allows those with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to everyone else.

In the complaint filed against Apple, Mendez claims that the Apple website is designed, constructed, maintained, and operated in a way that denies visually-impaired and blind individuals from using the website, and therefore, is in violation of the ADA. She seeks a permanent injunction to cause a change in Apple’s corporate policies, practices, and procedures in order for its website to be fully accessible to blind and visually-impaired consumers.

Typically, in a growing internet-savvy world, visually-impaired and blind people are able to use screen-reading technology that states aloud the information on the website. Alternatively, the screen-reading technology displays the content on a Braille display. Companys, when dealing with their websites, must have an invisible code embedded beneath the graphic imagines in order for the screen reader to verbalize the picture that is on its website. Apple’s website, however, does not do that.

The complaint states that the World Wide Web Consortium, the international website standards organization, has published “well-established” guidelines for making websites accessible to blind and visually-impaired people. The complaint continues to explain that these guidelines are universally followed by most large business entities and government agencies to ensure their websites are accessible.

As a result of Apple being inaccessible to visually-impaired and blind people, some of its customers are unable to determine what is on the website, look for store locations, and browse or purchase electronics, such as the widely popular iPhone, iPad, and MacBook laptops.

According to Forbes, as of 2018, Apple is the largest technology company in the world and the eighth largest company in the world. This poses no question whether it has the funds or ability to make its website accessible to all individuals. Additionally, both the company and its consumers benefit from having the website more accessible; More of Apple consumers will be able to browse/purchase its products online when visually-impaired and blind individuals can explore its website. Additionally, visually-impaired and blind people, like Mendez’ complaint asserts, should have access to all websites, and are seriously hindered when companies, such as Apple, do not make its website accessible.


Dave Simpson, Apple Cite Violates ADA For Those Who Are Blind, Suit Says, Law360 (March 16, 2018),

Mendez v. Apple Inc. No. 07550. (S.D.N.Y. filed Aug. 18, 2018).

U.S. Dep. of Jus. Civ. Rights Div. Americans with Disabilities Act (1990),

Kristin Stoller, The World’s Largest Tech Companies 2018: Apple, Samsung Take Top Spots Again, Forbes (June 6, 2018, 5:50 pm),

A Reaction to a Shortage—Patents about EpiPen

By: Laura O’Brien

In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requiring food labels to include the eight major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Prior to the Act, many foods were mislabeled, or failed to label one or more of these allergens. By mislabeling, or failing to label foods, individuals with allergies were vulnerable to allergic reactions to seemingly safe foods. Allergies, to food, bees, and other common allergens, put approximately 30,000 individuals in the hospital every year due to anaphylactic reactions. Individuals with severe allergic reactions rely on EpiPen’s to provide relief from symptoms. An EpiPen contains epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. One injection from an EpiPen allows for 20 to 30 minutes after injection to suppress the allergic reaction and allow for an individual to reach medical care. Typically, individuals with allergies carry two EpiPen’s to offer either a backup, or an extra 30 minutes.

Pfizer and Mylan, the drug maker and distributor, came under heat for increasing the price to the life-saving device. Pfizer and Mylan were then subject to several lawsuits arising out of the price hike. Pfizer and Mylan have lacked competition in the EpiPen market, essentially having a monopoly in the market. By having a monopoly, the drug companies are able to charge a higher price, and consumers have no option other than to pay what is required. Unlike many other pharmaceuticals, EpiPen’s consist of non-patented epinephrine and a patented injector, the patent is owned by Mylan. Previously, the FDA wouldn’t approve any EpiPen alternative that had a different injector than the one patented by Mylan. As a result, no other pharmaceutical companies were able to produce an alternative that would be approved by the FDA.

Recently, the FDA has announced its commitment to expedite the approval process for alternative treatments. As a result, the FDA recently approved an auto-injector from the Israel based pharmaceutical company, Teva, creating competition for Pfizer and Mylan. Although Mylan introduced a generic EpiPen in 2016, this introduction did not create competition between companies, allowing Mylan and Pfizer to continue to sell both products at a high price. The FDA hopes the introduction of competition into the market will allow for lower prices, and more accessibility to those who need the life-saving drug.

In 2017, Mylan recalled several lots of EpiPen’s due to potential defects. The recall resulted in the FDA reprimanding Pfizer for failing to investigate complaints they hade received about EpiPen failures, some of which resulted in death. More recently, a shortage of EpiPen’s has continued, causing concern for parents of children with allergies going back to school who can’t seem to track down any pharmacies that are stocked with EpiPen’s.

Although the approval of the generic gives hope for those who need EpiPen’s and haven’t been able to afford or find them, the approval will not allow immediate relief. The shortage will continue until manufacturing and distribution can catch up with the need.



Sonja Haller, How parents can find a lifesaving EpiPen for their kids during current shortage, USA Today (Aug. 22, 2018),

Nathan Bomey, FDA approves first generic EpiPen in blow to Mylan, USA Today (Aug. 08, 2018),

Avik Roy, FDA’s New Generic EpiPen Approval Exemplifies Progress on Drug Price Reform, Forbes (Aug. 23, 2018),

Joseph Walker, EpiPen Shortage Hits Back-to-School Season, The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 25, 2018),

FDA approves Teva’s generic of Mylan’s EpiPen, 25 No. 14 Westlaw J. Med. Devices 08 (2018).


Using Neuroscience to Understand the Criminal Mind

By: Dejaih Johnson

The legal system is primarily reactive in its processes. Whether through common law to prevent the reoccurrence of a certain act, or trials to determine the culpability of one accused of committing a certain act, much of the legwork is done after commission. However, what if we could get ahead of this and identify those prone to committing crimes before the commission? For ages we have marveled with the criminal mind, making countless attempts to understand what makes these individuals tick, and a team at Cornell University may have begun taking steps in the right direction.

Recently, Valerie Reyna and her team have made great strides with a study of self-reporting criminal and non-criminal tendency individuals. The team has examined the neurological correlations between risk-preferences and criminality in adults. In part one, participants were offered a choice between $20 guaranteed, or a coin flip to gamble for double or nothing. Results found that individuals with higher criminal tendencies chose the gamble, arguing that $40 is more than $20. In part two, participants were given an option between losing $20, or flipping a coin to lose $40 or lose nothing. Those with lower criminal tendencies chose to gamble, conversely, those with higher criminal-tendencies chose a sure loss over the gamble.

These results offer a much different approach to understanding the criminal mind – a cognitive approach. In particular, Reyna’s study illustrates that it may be possible to identify and deter future high criminal-tendency individuals before a commission. Perhaps the most important takeaway from this study comes from Reyna’s team monitoring brain activation during completion of the tasks. After reviewing the results, the team found greater activation in temporal and parietal cortices for individuals that had higher criminal tendencies. These two areas of the brain are mostly involved with cognitive analysis and reasoning. This suggests that higher risk-takers utilize these two areas to maximize their winnings and minimize their loss at all costs. Those that are ordinary risk-takers showed brain activity in the amygdala and striatal areas, commonly associated with emotional reactivity and reward motivation. This implies that ordinary risk-takers are allured by the sure winnings of $20 and emotionally deterred from the guaranteed loss, favoring the possibility of losing nothing.

Moving onward, this study further illustrates that research into the criminal mind is important in creating policy. Reyna’s study demonstrates that the criminal mind and criminal reasoning is not always the same. Therefore, public policy surrounding the legal system should reflect this. Reyna argues that this study provides a greater understanding of brain behavior and can result in a more just system to protect both the public and the rights of the individual.

Beyond the reactive implications, the team at Cornell has provided an understanding of how to prevent criminal behavior proactively. When asked about the consequences of her study, Reyna stated, “I think this can really give us insight into how to help young people.” For example, she continued, this may help distinguish those who will and will not become criminals, in addition to helping us understand their behaviors and how to rehabilitate them. No matter which way you look at the results, it is readily apparent that studies like that conducted by Reyna and her team significantly contribute towards understanding criminality and the criminal mind. It is expected that this will excite new, novel research into the topic.


Does neuroscience hold the key to understanding the criminal mind?, ScienceDaily (Sept. 5, 2018),

Is Your Phone Listening to You?

By: Emma Coppola

Voice technology, for so many devices, has inevitably changed the way we communicate and manipulate our surroundings. “Talk to text” on our phone, helps us send messages to friends and family, when our hands might not be free. “Alexa”, with Amazon, can turn the lights on for us when we walk into our apartments.  Siri for iPhone, and Cortana for Android are at the ready to answer our most pressing questions, such as “What year did Brittany Spears shave her head?” and “Do bugs have feelings?” But all of this begs an even greater question, which is, “Are our devices listening to us?”

Earlier this year in July 2018, the Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) CEO Larry Page, concerned with whether these devices were listening, or “eavesdropping” on people’s conversations. While these voice technologies prove to make our lives all a bit easier at times, consumers and lawmakers were worried that smartphones were collecting data and listening to conversations when the voice activation had not been triggered.

Apple responded stating that Siri is triggered through voice assistants like “Hey Siri” and only then does the smart device begin to process voice commands. Apple also stated that the guidelines of their program require the iPhone to show some sort of visual indicator when the device is collecting data (that little purple thing on your phone when you’re talking to Siri). There is also a microphone and audio setting on the phone, where users can revoke the device’s access to “hear” commands.

Some experts in the field of computer science and technology say users have nothing to worry about. “Its categorically untrue that this is happening” stated Serge Egelman, the director of security and privacy research at Berkley’s International Computer Science Institute. On the flip side, others are concerned and troubled by these devices’ powers. “We really need a baseline privacy law in the United States that protects people, we can’t just rely on Apple’s policies or other big tech companies” stated Chris Calabrese, VP of policy at the Center of Democracy and Technology.

While the opinions may be fluctuating, the issue and concern of a reasonable expectation of privacy still stand, especially when interacting with technology. When will the way technology works cross the “privacy line”, or has it already?



Kaya Yurieff, Apple: No, your iPhone isn’t eavesdropping on you, CNN Tech (Aug. 8, 2018, 5:12 PM),

Department of Justice to Crack Down on Safe Injection Facilities

By: Joseph Mallek

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was interviewed on the local Philadelphia radio station, WHYY, where he stated that the Department of Justice would be taking, “swift and aggressive action” against cities which open Safe Injection Facilities. Major cities across the United States are planning to open Safe Injection Facilities to combat overdose deaths by providing centers where users are monitored by staffers who are equipped with the opioid antidote naloxone and oxygen. With overdose-related deaths increasing to epidemic levels in the past several years, cities are looking for a new approach to save lives. Safe Injection Facilities are one option, modeled after similar facilities in Europe and Canada, to provide a quicker response in the event of an overdose. City health officials in Philadelphia stated that in countries with these kinds of facilities, overdose deaths have dropped.

Rosenstein stated in an interview on WHYY and in a subsequent opinion column he wrote in the New York Times, that the Safe Injection Facilities are a violation of federal law. Under federal law, it is illegal to maintain a location for the purposes of facilitating illegal drug use, even though the facility staffers do not provide users with illegal drugs or assist in the use of illegal drugs, by either injection or smoking. Rosenstein argued in his opinion column that in addition to these facilities being illegal under federal law, they have a detrimental impact on the communities they sit through the flood of drug users to an area, bringing with them the peripheral criminal activity associated with illegal drug use. Officials in cities planning to open Safe Injection Facilities – in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, Seattle and elsewhere – have pushed back against the statements of Rosenstein and the Department of Justice, creating the possibility of another standoff between cities federal authorities.


Lenny Bernstein & Katie Zezima, Cities defiant after Justice Department’s threat on ‘supervised injection sites’, The Washington Post (Sept. 4, 2018),

Bobby Allyn, DOJ’s Rosenstein: If Philly opens injection site, U.S. crackdown will be swift, WHYY (Aug. 29, 2018),

Rod J. Rosenstein, Fight Drug Abuse, Don’t Subsidize It, The New York Times (Aug. 27, 2018),

In-N-Stout Beer’s Marketing Success based on an In-N-Out Burger’s Cease and Desist Letter

By Erin Kelly

As a small brewery in California, Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery (“Seven Stills”) uses creative tactics to conjure up business. Among their marketing strategies is intentional trademark infringement. On July 12, 2018, Seven Still posted a picture to the social media platform, Instagram. The post displayed the In-N-Stout beer can design, advertising the upcoming release of their new Neapolitan milkshake stout. Seven Still was under no impression that the popular burger joint, In-N-Out, would allow the blatant trademark infringement. “We were pretty certain it wouldn’t fly,” a later Seven Stills Instagram posted explained. “If we really wanted to get away with it, we’d hide the art until release, and be sold out before anyone complained.”

In the original picture posted of the In-N-Stout beer can design, Seven Stills tagged In-N-Out’s Instagram account, just to be certain it was seen. In-N-Out was quick to respond with a cease and desist letter, requesting Seven Stills to refrain from further use of In-N-Out’s trademarks. Seven Stills seized the opportunity it hoped to create all along – major publicity. The brewery posted the cease and desist letter to Instagram, highlighting In-N-Out’s clever use of brewing puns throughout the letter. Seven Stills complied with the letter and redesigned the cans and the beer name to remove any relation from In-N-Out. Capitalizing on the attention, disguised as a symbol of their comradery, Seven Stills purchased 100 burgers from In-N-Out to give away to the first 100 customers that purchased their new stout. They also posted multiple photos of the new beer can design in front of the In-N-Out sign and food, continuing to ride on the coattails of In-N-Out. The marketing strategy was successful, as the new stout sold out quickly.

This In-N-Stout has not been the first or the last of Seven Stills’ infringement marketing ploys. The replacement design for In-N-Stout featured a silhouette of Kanye West, filled in with lyrics from one of the singer’s recent songs. Previously, Seven Stills has also produced beer cans with an uncanny resemblance to the product design of Swedish Fish and TNT Fireworks. Whether there will be any trademark misappropriation suits and how long Seven Stills can thrive on this market strategy are highly-focused.


Brendan Weber, ‘In-N-Stout Beer’ Spurs Punny Cease and Desist Letter from Burger Chain, NBC Bay Area (Aug. 15, 2018, 10:43 AM),

Luis Gomez, ‘In-N-Stout’ Beer Offends In-N-Out. Burger Chain Crafts Response Full of Beer Puns, San Diego Union-Trib. (Aug. 15, 2018, 12:25 PM),

Mark Saunders, In-N-Out Sends Pun-Laden Cease and Desist to California Brewery over ‘In-N-Stout’ Beer, 10 News – San Diego, California (Aug. 15. 2018, 6:13 PM),

Seven Stills (@sevenstills), Instagram, (last visited Aug. 31, 2018).

Seven Stills (@sevenstills), Instagram, (last visited Aug. 31, 2018).

Seven Stills (@sevenstills), Instagram, (last visited Aug. 31, 2018).

Tethered Drones

By: Cody Andrushko

Drones (also known as Unmanned Aircraft System (“UAS”)) are currently a subject of controversy within the United States and globally due to the potential safety, security, and privacy threats that people face when exposed to them. Currently, drones are operated both for recreational and commercial purposes.

Tethered drone, a hybrid field of drones, has recently seen new innovation and implementation. Companies, such as Fotokite, who recently was awarded one million dollars in the GENIUS NY business accelerator competition, has developed patented flight control processes that enable kite-like operation

Tethered drones, as opposed to free-flying drones, have potentially three significant advantages: (1) power, (2) security, and (3) control.

Having the device tethered has allowed companies to develop drones that can be continually powered for prolonged operation. As a result, tethered drone devices and services have seen recent marketing to municipal governments for implementation within police forces and fire departments. Tethered drones often offer better vantage points and larger perspectives than current tools used, which enables first responders to better assess quickly evolving and often-dangerous situations, where information saves lives. Drone cameras can be outfitted with an array of sensors, which can enable tethered drones to be tailored to particular market sectors, such as infrared cameras for fire departments.

Tethered drones have seen practical application by the secret service that is operating an undisclosed model of the tethered drone while protecting President Trump. Tethered drones will likely see larger implementation for security purposes in the future, as they are often: portable; designed for quick set-up; able to provide aerial imaging (for often larger and better perspectives); enabled to operate for a long period of time permission; and incorporated with video feed and control software that can be hard lined into the drone, which enables more secure operation.

Further, the tether enables operators to have more control over the device. While the drone still has a radius of movement, the tether enables more control when unforeseen weather or operation issues occur because it is still limited by how much tether has been provided.

However, although some people seek to avoid UAS regulations by tethering their drone and arguing that it is more akin to a balloon or kite, than a drone; the FAA does not agree. The FAA addressed this issue in a recent document [Docket No.: FAA-2015-0150], “…a small unmanned aircraft that uses powered systems for actions such as propulsion or steering is not a balloon or kite subject to part 101” and further states that “the definition of small UAS in this rule includes tethered powered small UAS.”



  1. Patrick C. Miller, Swiss company Fotokite wins $1 million business competition, UAS magazine (April 25, 2018),
  2. US Patent No: US 9446858 B2,
  3. Trevor Mogg, Tethered drones to help Secret Service provide security for president, Digital Trends (Aug. 3, 2017),
  4. Billing Code 4910-13-P, Department of Transportation: Federal Aviation Administration, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems,