To What Extent Does the Current EU Regulatory Framework for Civilian Drones Address Privacy Issues?
Keywords:Drones, Civil Liability, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Privacy, Personal Data Protection
Drone operation for civil purposes is a path-breaking innovation for all sectors of society. Drones, which were initially used for military purposes only, are currently widely applied for different civil purposes, such as recreational and commercial use, disaster relief, agriculture, construction management and other purposes. The drone industry is expected to employ more than 100,000 people and have an economic impact for more than €10 billion annually by 2025. To achieve their full potential, it is vitally important to assess the potential risks drones might pose considering their characteristics and how this risk could be eliminated. It is also globally acknowledged that drones need to be integrated into non-segregated airspace, without compromising the achieved standards of civil aviation for manned aircraft in any way.
There are very important aspects linked to drone operation that are equally relevant to individuals both on the ground and in the air as well as to states and users of the airspace of interest for both manned and unmanned aircraft operation, among them is privacy. There are no direct instruments addressing privacy concerns related to drone operation. Therefore, existing treaties and regulations should be examined to determine whether these privacy issues are covered by national, regional and global regulatory frameworks of the EU. As stressed in the Riga Declaration: “Public acceptance is key to the growth of drone services”. Therefore, addressing privacy issues sufficiently is a permanent force affecting the growth of the drone industry.