Markey on FAA Reauthorization Bill: A ‘Missed Opportunity’ on Protecting Privacy

Despite efforts and amendments from Markey, drone privacy protections for Americans not properly addressed in the final bill


Washington (July 13, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, expressed disappointment that the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act that the Senate passed today did not include drone privacy provisions that he authored that were included in the Senate version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that passed in April this year. 


“This FAA reauthorization bill was a missed opportunity to enact 21st century rules of the sky to protect privacy as more drones take flight,” said Senator Markey.  “While the Senate passed bill included bipartisan provisions that promoted transparency in drone use and collection of personal information about Americans, today’s final legislation included no such protections. Now is the time to prevent these eyes in the skies from becoming spies in the skies. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the privacy of Americans is protected in the brave new world of drone use.”


In April, the Senate passed an FAA reauthorization bill that included a number of provisions authored by Senator Markey, including a requirement that government and commercial drone operators disclose if they collect personally identifiable information about an individual, including through the use of facial recognition, how the personal data will be used, including for advertising or marketing purposes, and when the sensitive information will bedestroyed.  Markey also included a requirement that government operators disclose the location, purposes of flight and technical capabilities, such as cameras or license plates readers, of their drones.


In March 2015, Senator Markey and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced bicameral legislation to establish safeguards to protect the privacy of individuals from the expanded use of drones. The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act ensures standards for informing the public about the location, timing and ownership of unmanned aerial vehicles.