On Thursday, after more than a year, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) released a set of guidelines regarding “best practices” for maintaining privacy while operating unmanned aircraft systems, a.k.a. drones. In February 2015, President Obama asked NTIA to work with private stakeholders in the drone industry, including companies operating private drones and digital privacy groups like Center for Democracy & Technology, to come up with the guidelines. The results are some pretty weak sauce to allay the concerns of people worried about drones hovering over their homes taking photos. (Those people would be better off buying an anti-drone defense system.) Five guidelines are set forth in a brisk eight pages and mostly outline how private drone operators ought to collect, use, and protect data; which means taking photos or otherwise collecting identifying details about the people underneath the drone. (An exception is carved out for news organizations, to whom the best practices don’t apply, because of First Amendment limits on what the government can tell the press not to do.) The guidelines broadly discourage flying commercial drones over private property unless absolutely necessary, and say you should do your best to secure data. But here’s a lil’ snag: the guidelines remain entirely voluntary. Look, it’s right there in the title! “Voluntary Best Practices for… Read full this story
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