UK Information Commissioner taking positive steps in identifying privacy issues with use of drones and doing something about them

November 14, 2014 |

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has taken some positive steps in highlighting and dealing with the potentially privacy intrusive activities of drones. The technology is becoming a valuable and necessary part of business operations and is being used in a growing number of  commercial and industrial uses.  The uptake of unmanned aerial vehicles has taken place in a legislative lacuna.

The UK Deputy Information Commissioner recently appeared before the House of Lords EU Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Sub-Committee taking evidence on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)/Civil Drones.  His evidence is found in video format here.

Extracts of what he said are:

“There is more scope with these systems for what we would call collateral intrusion,” Smith told the Lords Sub-Committee on the Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment. “[For example], I’m going to inspect the roof of a house but I pick up lots of images of people in the garden, neighbours gardens and around which I’m not intending to pick up but which I do pick up.”

and

..how far data protection law extends to personal and private use is more than under debate, it is under legal question,” Smith told the committee. “There is a case before the CJEU about domestic use of CCTV where it is a camera put on someone’s private house but it overlooks the public area into street. Our approach [under UK law] would be … that that is all outside the scope of data protection law.”

The  Sub-Committee is expected to report on the results of its inquiry into the civil use of RPAS in the EU in March.

In October 2014 the Information Commissioner’s Office  issued a new guideline In the Picture, a guide on the use of surveillance cameras which covers the use of drones and the application of the Data Protection Act.

One Response to “UK Information Commissioner taking positive steps in identifying privacy issues with use of drones and doing something about them”

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