House Bill Targets Drone Privacy

Proposed legislation to provide guidance and limitations on drone use in the U.S.

Drone big
Drone big

With an eye toward increasing oversight of coming unmanned aerial vehicle operations, the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act is now under consideration as a bill in the House of Representatives. Introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday, the bill is designed to "provide guidance and limitations" to language in the FAA funding reauthorization legislation mandating "full integration" of drones into U.S. airspace by the end of September 2015.

Under Markey’s proposal, civilian drone operators seeking authorization to operate would have to submit information describing what kind of data was to be collected; how the information would be used; how long it would be kept; and in the case of law enforcement, what would happen to data that was collected that did not relate directly to the approved operation. In addition, the FAA would be mandated to create a website listing all drone operations and describing their missions in detail.

In the case of law enforcement surveillance situations, agencies would be required to file a warrant for the operation of a drone, except in situations such as “imminent danger of death” or “a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization.” In a statement, Markey said, “Drones should be used in accordance with privacy principles that protect Americans from unlawful surveillance and searches without their knowledge or permission.”