Nov 082013
 November 8, 2013  Posted by  Govt

Not everyone was satisfied with the FAA’s nod to privacy in the drone integration roadmap it released yesterday.

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), today issued the following statement after the FAA released its “road map” for integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., drones) into the national airspace system. In its plan, the FAA addressed public comments on its drone privacy policy for proposed test sites. The FAA agreed that it has the authority to regulate privacy of drones and added requirements for test site operators to maintain records of drone use and data collection. Additionally, it allows site operators to both develop and enforce their own privacy policies. Most alarmingly, the FAA stated that it will not take “…specific views on whether or how the Federal Government should regulate privacy or the scope of data that can be collected by manned or unmanned aircraft.

“While the FAA is right to require privacy plans for drone operations, a patchwork of plans without a federal law is simply not enough to ensure the strongest safeguards are in place before tens of thousands of drones take to the skies,” said Senator Markey.  “A state-by-state plan makes no sense. Protecting Americans’ privacy from drones should not be dependent on the drone’s flight path.”

“The FAA’s plan falls far short of putting in place the necessary privacy protections for the commercialization of drone use in U.S. airspace. This disregard for the need for strong and comprehensive privacy safeguards underscores why we must pass federal legislation to protect innocent individuals from expanded use of commercial and government drones. My legislation, the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act, requires transparency on the domestic use of drones and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot and will not be used to spy on Americans. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to pass this important legislation to ensure the privacy of Americans is protected in this new age of expanded drone use.”

Senator Markey’s legislation would amend the FAA Modernization and Reform Act to:

  • Prohibit the FAA from issuing drone licenses unless the license application includes a data collection statement that explains who will operate the drone, where the drone will be flown, what kind of data will be collected, how that data will be used, whether the information will be sold to third parties, and the period for which the information will be retained.
  • Require law enforcement agencies and their contractors and subcontractors to include an additional data minimization statement that explains how they will minimize the collection and retention of data unrelated to the investigation of a crime.
  • Require that any surveillance involving drones by law enforcement agencies will require a warrant or extreme exigent circumstances.
  • Require the FAA to create a publicly available website that lists all approved licenses and includes the data collection and data minimization statements, any data security breaches suffered by a licensee, and the times and locations of drone flights.

A copy of the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act can be found HERE.

SOURCE: Senator Edward Markey

Elsewhere, the Department of Homeland Security was busy in federal court trying to get the judge to throw out EFF’s demands for it to identify counties where it conducts surveillance drone flights over U.S. soil. Read more about that on Courthouse News.

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