Privacy SOS

MA Congressman Ed Markey introduces privacy protective drone legislation

Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey (D) has introduced legislation that aims to limit privacy violations resulting from the incoming domestic drone invasion. A statement on the Congressman's website reads in part:

…[T]he Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act (DAPTA) amends the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act to include privacy protection provisions relating to data collection and minimization, disclosure, warrant requirements for law enforcement, and enforcement measures in the licensing and operation of  “unmanned aircraft systems”, commonly known as drones. 

Many drones are designed to carry equipment such as video cameras, infrared thermal imagers, radar, and wireless network “sniffers”, with the capability to collect sensitive detailed information while operating in the skies above.

“Drones should be used in accordance with privacy principles that protect Americans from unlawful surveillance and searches without their knowledge or permission,” said Rep. Markey. “The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act will ensure strong personal privacy protections and public transparency measures are in place at the beginning of the use of this new technology, not as an afterthought. I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues on a bi-partisan basis to advance this important legislation to ensure that these ‘eyes in the skies’ don’t become ‘spies in the skies’.”

In addition to excellent data minimization, transparency and accountability requirements, the bill would mandate a warrant for law enforcement deployment of drones for surveillance purposes, except in emergencies. The legislation also directs the FAA to create a publicly viewable 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."

Read more about the bill here.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.