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zenmuse in actionThe following is a guest post by commercial drone pilot and writer Terry Jarrell.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed suit against the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) hoping to gain better access to meeting documents.

Public Privacy and Drones

There is no question that there are more and more drones in the air every day. Many of these devices are equipped with high quality cameras that can capture amazing images but unfortunately, there comes the issue of improper spying or ‘drone-stalking’ where drone operators are infringing on personal privacy. With this in mind, the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) meets to discuss drone policy as this industry continues to take shape.

It is important to consider that not all drones are of the consumer level. Higher performance systems can use a variety of sensors not only limited to high quality cameras. Using sophisticated thermal sensing, GPS, facial recognition and other technologies from high altitudes, the implications can be considerable. Even consumer and pro-super level drones have the ability to lock on and follow a subject, orbit or perform other semi-aware procedures

EPIC’s Suit

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently filed suit against the DAC to provide better access to the documents related to their meeting on this subject. EPIC wants to know how the DAC is addressing the privacy issues with the ever increasing number of drones in the sky. The DAC has conducted six public meetings but more meetings by subcommittees have been outside public view. Three Task Groups are assigned to work on specific issues related to drones but none of the Task Group meeting have been open publicly. Very few records or documentation has been released by the DAC regarding these meetings.

EPIC filed suit to enforce the transparency obligations via the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The FACA guidelines state that meeting must meet two essential sets of criteria including making meetings open to the public and making records, transcripts, reports, minutes, drafts and other related documentation available for public inspection and copying.

Summary

As the world of drones continues to evolve and grow, now is the time to implement not only leading edge technologies for business and personal use, but also a set of guidelines for proper use and conduct. EPIC’s suit illustrates the importance of adequate, proper and effective governance of drone privacy and any potential management and violation enforcement as it develops.

Terry Jarrell is owner of Black Dog Drone Operations in central Florida where he has been a technology professional, Apple consultant, instructor and writer for over 15 years. He is also a FAA CFR 14 Part 107 Remote Pilot dedicated to the advancement of professional, safe and productive drone operation through education and awareness