The Article 29 Working Party has published an Opinion (01/2015) about the data protection and privacy issues in relation to the utilisation of drones.
The Working Party acknowledges the social and economic benefits of drones within the aviation market and the opportunities that could develop for law enforcement agencies, but emphasises that risks and threats to individuals’ privacy will also increase through a large-scale deployment of drone and sensor technology.
While the commercial use of drones would be subject to the 28 members states’ national data protection laws, generally at the EU level there is no specific data protection legislation for personal or governmental use of drones. Drones also present several unique challenges because of the manner in which personal data can be processed; for instance, through images, sound, geolocation, and the potential to interconnect multiple drones, as well as the potential for them to be used to gather information from areas that would not ordinarily be public, such as over walls, fences, or other barriers without the need for a direct line of sight. The potential for data collection from such unique vantage points increases the risk that individuals will be less aware that their personal data is being processed, in turn reducing transparency and increasing the possible intrusion into individuals’ privacy.