CDD Takes Aim at Drone Privacy 'Stakeholder' Model

Says the Approach Hasn't Worked for Other Privacy Issues

The Center for Digital Democracy has taken aim at the Obama Administration's multistakeholder approach to protecting privacy under new private and commercial drone rules released over the weekend by the Federal Communications Commission and the White House (via executive order).

The CDD has participated in similar efforts by the administration to come up with voluntary privacy standards for mobile apps and facial recognition, and the groupn has not given those very high marks.

"We don't know who is advising President Obama on Internet privacy," CDD executive director Jeff Chester said. "But they do him a disservice when they support so-called multistakeholder approaches. This is practically a guarantee that either no rules will ever be written or, if they are, will favor the ubiquitous and always advancing Big Data-driven collection system already in place (across our devices, applications, etc.)."

Chester said more independent experts are needed rather than a "lobbyist-dominated forum."

The White House has given the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) 90 days to start the multistakeholder process, or what Chester tabbed a "drone-delivered Valentine’s gift" -- it was announced Feb. 14.

An NTIA spokeswoman took issue with Chester's characterization of the process as lobbyist-driven

“NTIA's multistakeholder meetings are open to anyone who wants to participate, and we encourage participation from a broad range of stakeholders including civil society," said the spokeswoman. "We have previously convened processes focused on mobile apps and commercial uses of facial recognition technology; these meetings have included a wide variety of participants including privacy advocates, academics, and technical experts. We will announce more details soon related to the President’s call for a multistakeholder process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial UAS.”

Earlier this month, the FAA issued more regulatory exemptions from its drone restrictions for TV and film production -- to Team 5; Shotover Camera Systems; Helinet Aviation Services;  and Alan D. Purwin. It issued the first batch of exemptions for TV and film back in February.

Operators of the drones have to have a private pilot's license and keep the drone in line of sight at all times. The aircraft must also be inspected before each flight.