A House member on Wednesday said that the Obama administration needs to build privacy protections into a plan to allow for the use of nongovernmental drones.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has released draft legislation that would impose privacy safeguards on the use of drones by nongovernmental entities. The Transportation Department is set to release a plan, possibly as soon as this November, for the use of nongovernment drones. Markey noted that the Federal Aviation Administration has estimated that 30,000 drones could be in use by 2020 carrying video cameras, wireless network sniffers, and other technology that could collect sensitive information from Americans.
"Drones are already flying in U.S. airspace--with thousands more to come--but with no privacy protections or transparency measures in place," Markey, cochairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, said in a statement. "We are entering a brave new world, and just because a company soon will be able to register a drone license shouldn't mean that company can turn it into a cash register by selling consumer information."
His draft bill would require the Transportation secretary to study the privacy effects of drone use and include privacy considerations in crafting rules for issuing drone licenses that incorporates recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission's recent report on privacy. The draft measure would also require those seeking a drone license to detail what kinds of data will be collected from the drones, how it will be used, and how applicants will protect privacy.