Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 2022242742

FAA recently gathered public comment on drone privacy policies

Washington (November 4, 2013) - With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continuing its development of rules governing operation of tens of thousands of domestic drones expected in American airspace in the coming years, Senator Edward J. Markey (DMass.) today introduced legislation to ensure standards for informing the public about the location, timing and ownership of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., "drones").  Sen. Markey's legislation also establishes safeguards to protect the privacy of individuals from expanded use of commercial and government drones. The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act will require privacy protection provisions relating to data collection and minimization, disclosure, warrant requirements for law enforcement, and enforcement measures in the licensing and operation of drones. In the House of Representatives, Markey introduced similar legislation earlier this year. 


"Before countless commercial drones begin to fly overhead, we must ground their operation in strong rules to protect privacy and promote transparency," said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FAA. "My drone privacy legislation requires transparency on the domestic use of drones and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot and will not be used to spy on Americans. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on this bipartisan issue to ensure that strong personal privacy protections and public transparency measures are put in place now."


A copy of Senator Markey's legislation can be found HERE


Senator Markey's legislation would amend the FAA Modernization and Reform Act to:


  • Prohibit the FAA from issuing drone licenses unless the license application includes a data collection statement that explains who will operate the drone, where the drone will be flown, what kind of data will be collected, how that data will be used, whether the information will be sold to third parties, and the period for which the information will be retained.
  • Require law enforcement agencies and their contractors and subcontractors to include an additional data minimization statement that explains how they will minimize the collection and retention of data unrelated to the investigation of a crime.
  • Require that any surveillance involving drones by law enforcement agencies will require a warrant or extreme exigent circumstances.
  • Require the FAA to create a publicly available 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.


A coalition of national privacy groups joined today in support of Senator Markey's legislative effort to promote transparency and accountability to the public in the use of commercial drones.


Chris Calabrese, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

"Bills like the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2013 assure that Americans' privacy won't go extinct in the 21st century. It is vital that we have comprehensive rules in place so that new technologies like drones are used in a responsible manner by both companies and the government before they blanket the skies.  Mass aerial surveillance threatens our fundamental privacy rights and Congress must act now to ensure it doesn't become the norm in the United States."


Jennifer Lynch, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

"EFF continues to support Senator Markey's efforts to build privacy protections and greater transparency into the drone authorization process. The Senator's drone privacy bill adds muchneeded safeguards to the 2012 FAA Modernization Act and will help to protect Americans from unwarranted drone surveillance."


Amie Stepanovich, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

"Meaningful steps must be taken to address the risks to privacy posed by the deployment of drones in the United States. Senator Markey's bill will promote transparency of the drone industry and help ensure that drone operators are accountable for privacy violations."

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)

"Domestic surveillance drones pose a serious threat to personal privacy and raise significant constitutional concerns that must be addressed before drones take flight. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers supports Senator Markey's bill as an important first step towards transparency and accountability in future drone use."