White House issues memo on UAV privacy, rights

White House issues memo on UAV privacy, rights

White House issues directive for Federal treatment of UAVs following FAA release of proposed UAV rules

The White House on Sunday issued a Presidential Memorandum on privacy, civil rights and civil liberties regarding unmanned aerial vehicle use following release of proposed operation rules by the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation.

The proposed UAV rules include operator certification requirements, speed and airspace restrictions and general guidelines for use.

The Presidential memo said the White House is committed to promoting the responsible use of this technology, strengthening privacy safeguards and ensuring full protection of civil liberties.

A boy flies a quadcopter drone Oct. 24, 2014. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The White House said it also ensures that federal use of UAS addresses these concerns and in service of them, promotes better accountability and transparent use of this technology, including through the following:

Requiring federal agencies to ensure that their policies and procedures are consistent with limitations set forth in the Presidential Memorandum on the collection and use, retention, and dissemination, of information collected through UAS in the NAS.

Requiring agencies to ensure that policies are in place to prohibit the collection, use, retention, or dissemination of data in any manner that would violate the First Amendment or in any manner that would discriminate against persons based upon their ethnicity, race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, in violation of law.

• Requirements to ensure effective oversight.

• Provisions to promote transparency, including a requirement that agencies publish information within one year describing how to access their publicly available policies and procedures implementing the Presidential Memorandum.

• Requiring agencies to examine their UAS policies and procedures prior to the deployment of new UAS technology, and at least every three years, to ensure that protections and policies keep pace with developments.

Consistent with these objectives, the Presidential Memorandum additionally requires the Department of Commerce, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and in consultation with other interested agencies, to initiate a multi-stakeholder engagement process within 90 days to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning the commercial and private use of UAS in the NAS.

Related: Best Use Of UAVs Still 'Up In The Air'

There already are efforts underway to integrate UAS into the national airspace system, the White House noted. The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the testing of UAS at six sites around the country in December 2013 as part of its efforts to safely integrate UAS into the NAS, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

The Administration called UAS a "potentially transformative technology" in diverse fields, including agriculture.

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