FAA estimates as many as 2,700,000 commercial unmanned aircraft systems will be sold each year in the U.S. by 2020


Washington (January 15, 2019) – In the wake of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) release of a proposed rule to allow unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to be flown commercially over people and at night, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) called for strong privacy rules to be put in place before any rules are finalized. For the past three Congresses, Senator Markey has introduced the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act, legislation that would ensure standards for informing the public about the location, timing and ownership of drones. The legislation would 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.


“Privacy cannot be an afterthought as the FAA seeks to make it easier and safer for commercial drones to take flight,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Drones have the capability to collect treasure troves of sensitive personal information using technologies like facial recognition and automated license plate readers, yet the FAA has failed to establish any baseline privacy protections, despite its obligation to integrate drones into the national airspace. This neglect of American’s right to privacy in the age of drones is unacceptable. Congress must man the controls, which is why I will be reintroducing my Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act to protect the public from these potential flying spies in the skies.”


Senator Markey as long been a Congressional leader on drone privacy. Several of Senator Markey’s drone privacy provisions were included in the recently-passed FAA Reauthorization Act, enhancing the commercial and government drone database by requiring drone operators to disclose if they collect personally identifiable information about an individual, how the personal data will be used, and when the sensitive information will be destroyed. Senator Markey’s provisions also ensured that American’s have access to information regarding the location, purpose of flight, and technical capabilities of government drones, and improve the data minimization of government drones and encourage privacy research at drone test sites.