Washington (March 3, 2015) – With the recently-released rules from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and White House governing the operation of commercial and government drones failing to adequately protect the privacy of Americans, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today 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 will ensure standards for informing the public about the location, timing and ownership of unmanned aerial vehicles. The legislation also 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. The FAA estimates that 7,500 drones will take flight in U.S. airspace by 2020. Senator Markey introduced this legislation in the last Congress.

“We are entering a brave new world and just as we have rules of the road for manned vehicles, we now need rules of the sky for unmanned ones,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FAA. “We can have the economic benefits of drones while ensuring the privacy of Americans is protected. The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act requires transparency in domestic drone use and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot and will not be used to spy on Americans. I thank Rep. Welch for his partnership on this legislation, and I look forward to working on this bipartisan issue to ensure that Americans are guaranteed strong personal privacy protections and public transparency measures as these drones prepare to take flight.”


“As the presence of drones in our airspace becomes more commonplace, Americans are rightly growing concerned about their privacy,” said Rep. Welch. “Drones are a valuable tool for commerce, law enforcement, and public safety as well as a fun hobby.  Our statutes must be updated to reflect the emergence of this soon-to-be ubiquitous technology to ensure privacy and transparency in their operation and use.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.  

The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act would:

·      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 groups have endorsed the legislation: American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontiers Foundation, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.