Summary of Privacy rules in EU

In Europe, privacy and the protection of personal data are recognised fundamental human rights. European and national legislation protects us from external intrusions into our private lives, considering them illegal. This includes interferences resulting from the use of drones.

As a professional drone operator or customer of drone services, you should be aware that legal data protection requirements may concern you whenever you collect personal data, even if that is unintentional. – something which could easily happen when using a drone. . You must carefully asses this possibility for your specific operations before carrying them out. Any drone operation that involves the collection of personal data must comply with specific legal obligations and restrictions.

In Europe, the collection, storage and any other type of processing of personal data is governed by a specific law. The EU Data Protection Directive and the National Data Protection Laws (to be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018) 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 (such as a facial image) will fall within 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 the principle of fair, lawful and transparent processing  and the right of access (individuals retain control over the information that is collected). You should also consider minimizing the personal data collected.

Persons whose data are processed unlawfully, 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 : 24 January 2018