Alain Bensoussan

Civilian Drones and Privacy Protection

Drones, also known as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have long been confined to the military sector. But today their civilian use is growing exponentially in many areas. E-commerce giant Amazon’s recent announcement of the launch of a 30-minute package delivery service via small drones (Micro Aerial Vehicles) in the US within the next five years demonstrates the benefits of drones and showcases how enormous their potential can be.

In April 2012, France adopted regulations governing the use of drones. These regulations are implemented through the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC).

In addition, drones equipped with a camera or a video camera must take account of the French Data Protection Act, which governs the processing of personal data and privacy rights.

CNIL, the French data protection authority, has especially been looking into UAVs that integrate different kinds of sensor as they can be powerful tools to observe, store and analyze personal data. In December 2013 it devoted a special issue of its newsletter to the topic “Drones, Innovations, Privacy and Individual Freedoms”, in which it examined the possible new forms of surveillance of individual behaviors and movements, and hence — more generally— their impact on privacy.

This gives food for thought not only about the civilian use of UAVs, but also on the broader issue of roboethics. The CNIL’s analysis could lead to future recommendations in this area.

Link: Cnil 6th Newsletter on Innovation & Foresight (in French)