8. Understanding data protection risks – An introduction to relevant data protection law
When using a drone for recreational purposes, you should also be aware of data protection laws.
What is data protection?
Generally speaking, data protection law is a specific privacy protection that protects people’s personal data including sensitive personal data. You will have to be careful not to breach this law whenever you (1) collect any personal data about another person and (2) share it publicly, for example via the Internet. The right to privacy of information or data protection is protected by:
- Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
- The General Data Protection Regulation.
What is a personal data?
Personal data means any information – including sound and images – concerning an identified or identifiable person. An identifiable person is one who can be identified or recognised either directly (e.g. their face is visible) or indirectly (e.g. from their car plate number, matriculation plate, location, etc.).
Sensitive personal data means personal data consisting of information relating to people about their racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature, trade union memberships, physical or mental-health, sex life, and/ or criminal history. There are strong restrictions on the use of this data so be careful when you use a drone in locations that could reveal such information. Such locations include religious buildings, political headquarters, medical or prison facilities, for example.
Think before sharing
Before posting any picture (or any other personal data) on social media or widely on the Internet, think carefully about who will have access to that information and who is visible in the content you want to share. Consider the wishes of the people in your pictures or recordings.
People whose images you may have captured have the right to see any data of them and they have the right to ask you to delete it. People may also refuse to be in your footage in the first place or they may agree to it, but then change their mind later. No matter what people say, you should comply with their requests and wishes when it concerns images or other data regarding them.
Once your drone has landed, you publish a picture (or footage) to the Internet of someone without his/her permission. The picture only shows the overhead of that person who cannot be identified. You publish that data for exclusively personal or household activity, for instance on your personal blog. In that particular case, you may not be found in breach of relevant data protection law.
You are using a drone to prepare a video. The footage includes a picture of someone who is in his/her garden. The picture only shows the overhead of that person but includes other relevant information making it easier for others to identify or recognise him/her (e.g. matriculation plate, name of the street, location of the garden, etc.). You publish the video on your company website in connection to your business activity (not for exclusively personal or household activity). In that particular case, you may be in breach of relevant data protection law.
THINK BEFORE SHARING ANY RECORDING (images, video, audio) CONTAINING PEOPLE.