Privacy laws and drones: Legal considerations and best practices for commercial drone operators

Overview

The data collection capabilities of drones are unprecedented. Cameras and imaging payloads can capture and transmit data and high-resolution images, enabling drone operators to identify and track people and vehicles. Further, drones with radiocommunication payloads can potentially intercept communications or collect data from Wi-Fi access points.

These capabilities raise new and difficult privacy challenges, including:

  • Identifying when information captured by drones, alone or in combination with other information, is “personal information” (as defined by the relevant legislation);
  • Obtaining meaningful consent from data subjects where necessary;
  • Informing individuals about the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information, and ensuring that drone operators remain accountable for their practices; and
  • Limiting collection and reducing the potential for indiscriminate over-collection of personal information.
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