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Thursday, 22 June 2017 10:23

What if a dron was a Big Brother?

In no time the drones have invaded world airspace and seem to have an infinite range of uses. For example, in several countries have already been released drone pizza delivery that bring home the famous Italian dish. However, the use of dron technology is not always peaceful and can raise numerous legal, ethical and safety issues.

The previous year, the newspaper La Voz De Galicia reported how in a supermarket in Galicia was used for the first time in Spain a dron for video surveillance tasks. Clients and employees looked up as the new flight attendants approached without knowing that they were witnessing the premiere of the first flight monitoring dron in the country's enclosed enclosures.

Drones are taking on more and more importance. They can carry any type of sensors (images, sounds, thermal, etc.). Undoubtedly drones equipped with this type of sensors are collecting personal data of citizens so we need to ask how to protect such personal data.

From a legal point of view, a civilian dron could be defined as a reusable non-military aircraft that navigates unmanned and controlled remotely being able to self-maintain in the air.

During the conference on Drones and video surveillance organized on 12 June 2017 by the Honorable Bar Association, rapporteur Albert Chiva, a specialist lawyer, explained the legal framework applicable to dron technology.

The lack of specific legislation for the use of drones is no excuse to trample our fundamental right to privacy. In fact, the lack of specific regulation does not imply a legal vacuum. "It is not time for new regulations but time for interpretations and applications of what we already have." Video surveillance drones must comply with the following regulations:

  • • The video surveillance regulations: Instruction 1/2006, of November 8, of the Spanish Agency for Data Protection, on the processing of personal data for surveillance purposes through camera systems or video cameras.
  • • The regulations for the protection of personal data: Organic Law 15/1999, of 13 December, on the Protection of Personal Data (LOPD).
  • • The law on the fundamental right to privacy: Organic Law 1/1982, of 5 May, on civil protection of the right to honor, personal and family privacy and own image.

It is true that this legislation has some limitations, such as the fact that the video surveillance standard was intended for dead-angle static cameras. The dron does not have these impediments. Therefore, the great challenge of jurists is to know how to interpret and apply the rules that already exist.

However, a working group on drones of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport is currently studying a new EU-level regulation on drones, which it plans to implement in the near future. Work is being done so that from the manufacture of the dron technology is included in order to respect the LOPD and that manuals and instructions to comply with the regulations are included.

David Figueras, Managing Partner of SF Lawyers