Europe satisfied with drone privacy safeguards


by Aimee Turner

A Brussels probe into the social impact of widespread drone use is satisfied that today’s rules governing privacy, data protection and ethics is sufficiently robust to safeguard the public.

The European Commission commissioned two studies addressing key social impacts in the use of drones by members of the public.

Part of a European strategy to support the development of the European market for civil drones (or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems – RPAS), the first study on privacy, data protection and ethical risks in civil RPAS operations found that despite the current European and member state regulatory frameworks’ neutral aproach towards technology they are largely adequate to address the privacy, data protection and ethical impacts of RPAS.

Rather, it points out that the problem lies in educating the RPAS industry about its obligations and enforcing the regulatory mechanisms that are in place.

The report recommends the development of a privacy impact assessment framework for RPAS and awareness-raising activities targeted at the RPAS industry that clarify privacy and data protection requirements, as well as privacy-by-design features and practices.

It highlights the need for industry and data protection authorities (DPAs) to develop national or cross-national information resources enabling citizens to identify the missions and operators associated with individual RPAS.

The report calls for a closer collaboration between civil aviation authorities and DPAs to work together to ensure that data protection safeguards have been conducted, when they deliver flight permits.

The second study  on third-Party liability and insurance requirements investigated the current regulatory framework and insurance market, in order to assess whether they could ensure effective compensation of victims in case of an accident.

It concludes that there is no immediate need to adapt national liability regimes or the EU insurance regulation applying to professional use of RPAS.  However, it identified a need to raise awareness about existing regulations and support the development of an appropriate insurance offer.