NTIA releases UAS privacy best practices

By Luke Geiver | May 25, 2016

Unmanned aircraft systems service providers, end-users and the general public may now have a better understanding of the privacy issue. After beginning a multi stakeholder process more than a year ago involving UAS-affiliated entities, consumer advocacy and technology groups along with privacy-related organizations, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has completed a set of best practices for UAS service providers to ensure privacy concerns do not become issue.

The set of best practices include: informing affected persons of UAS use and the collection of data; take care in the collection and storage of information that identifies a particular person; limit the use and sharing of such data; secure data; and monitor and comply with the law as it evolves.

According to the NTIA, the best practice guidelines are not law binding and do not take precedence over any federal or state law. The guidelines should be, however,  considered by all UAS entities.

“The work of this presidentially directed initiative provides clear, consistent federal privacy guidance which addresses many of the concerns that have been raised in states and municipalities around the country,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International. “Rather than create a complicated patchwork of new laws to address privacy, AUVSI encourages states and municipalities to allow commercial operators to adopt these uniform, federal privacy best practices,” adding that “clear, consistent, national frameworks, such as this, are critical for the timely and safe integration into the national air space.”

The small UAV Coalition, an advocacy group that participated in the process run by the NTIA, commended the Obama Administration for tasking the NTIA with running the process “rather than initiating a lengthy rulemaking process or mandatory standards that raise First Amendment concerns.”

The best practices created explains how long data should be kept, when data should be edited, how a UAS company should handle requests to see or edit data collected and other issues. Find the best practices explanation here, and the backstory of the NTIA’s efforts here.