Industry Stakeholders Publish Drone Privacy Draft

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By Jimmy H. Koo

May 19 — Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators should use drones in a “responsible, ethical and respectful way,” and avoid collecting data if the operator knows the data subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy, according to a May 18 draft guidance of best practices for drone use.

The best practices draft is the result of President Obama's Feb. 15, 2015 order instructing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to convene a multi-stakeholder group to develop voluntary best practices for privacy, accountability and transparency regarding drone use (14 PVLR 1327, 7/20/15).

Stakeholders that supported the best practices draft include Inc., Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Technology Association and Online Trust Alliance, among others.

According to the draft, some of the best practices go beyond existing law and they aren't intended to create binding legal standards of care. The voluntary standards apply to data collected by both commercial and non-commercial drones, but don't apply to news gatherers and news reporting organizations.

“Newsgatherers and news reporting organizations may use UAS in the same manner as any other comparable technology to capture, store, retain and use data or images in public spaces,” the document said.

The best practices draft recommended that drone operators should make “reasonable effort” to provide notice to potential data subjects and inform them of the kinds of data collected. Further, operators should minimize drone operations over private properties and limit the use and sharing of the data, the draft said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jimmy H. Koo in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: George R. Lynch at

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