The Internet Takes Flight: Commercial Drones and the Online Economy

Date:Monday, August 3, 2015


In just ten years, the commercial drone sector is projected to become a multi-billion-dollar industry, creating thousands of jobs and putting over 80,000 new vehicles in the air. These Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have extended the Internet to the skies, bridging the gap between atoms and bits and promising to bring connectivity to remote corners of the world.

From expanding Internet access for rural populations to rapid delivery services, precision farming, and search-and-rescue operations, the commercial possibilities of Internet-enabled UAV are endless. Drones promise to revolutionize traditional industries across the world.

Some of the biggest Internet companies are looking skyward, but commercial drone use in the United States is currently hindered by privacy and safety concerns that have often forced companies to move testing and business overseas. The FAA, NASA, and industry are working on standards and regulations to allow commercial drone companies to operate legally and safely in the United States. This briefing will address the breadth of potential uses for commercial drones in an interconnected world and sketch out the policy landscape of Internet-enabled UAVs.

Later in the day, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will start a “multistakeholder process” aimed at developing privacy best practices for the commercial and private use of unmanned aircraft systems.



  • Michael Drobac, Executive Director, Small UAV Coalition (Bio)
  • Lisa Ellman, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Practice Group, Hogan Lovells (Bio)
  • Brian Fung, Reporter, The Washington Post (Bio)
  • Paul Misener, VP Public Policy, Amazon (Bio)