Summary of Privacy rules in EU

In Europe, privacy and the protection of personal data are recognised fundamental human rights. European and National legislations protect us from external intrusions, considering them illegal, including those resulting from the use of drones.

As a professional drone operator or customer of drone services, you must be aware that data Protection requirements may concern you even you do not collect personal data intentionally. Drones' applications present a high probability of collecting and/or processing personal data unintentionally. You must carefully asses this probability for your specific operations before starting them. Any drone operation that involves the collection of personal data must comply with the legal obligations and restrictions.

In Europe, the collection, storage and any other type of processing of personal data is framed by a specific law. The EU Data Protection Directive and the National Data Protection Laws (soon to be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation) set out the various requirements for the collection, processing and storage of personal data. 

  • What is personal data? The term “personal data” is a very broad concept that covers any type of information relating to an identified or identifiable person. As a result, any use of a drone that captures images which identify an individual will fall under the scope of data protection legislations. But the same also applies if the drone collects any type of data (such as location, house fronts, phone number, vehicle registration plate, IR image, etc.) that can be linked to an individual.
  • What are the principles to consider when collecting personal data? Data protection rules establish several key principles you should comply with, including for instance the principle of consent (individuals must agree to their data being collected) and the right of access (individuals retain control over the information that is collected). You should also consider minimizing the personal data collected.

Any person whose data were collected illegally are allowed to defend their rights in national courts or to file a complaint with the data protection authority of their country.

To learn more about privacy and data protection risks associated with professional drone operations, please refer to the following resources:

Last updated : 2 April 2017