Pictures from above are a real eye-catcher. For drone fans, it is a snap to photograph their own house or neighborhood from an entirely new perspective. The pictures of the drone cameras are often impressively beautiful and allow unusual shooting angles. Here is the big “but”: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the handling and processing of personal data. If you unintentionally take pictures of strangers in the neighborhood with your drone, you’re doing precisely that – collecting personal data. The GDPR defines personal data as data that includes an “identified or identifiable natural person”. The GDPR prohibits the processing of personal data. However, exceptions are possible. This means that this is a prohibition subject to permission.

What does it mean?

Despite the new technical possibilities, it is easy to forget that data protection and privacy also play an important role in drone flight. Especially – but not only – the use of drones with attached cameras is subject to special restrictions. The reason: On the one hand, personal data can, of course, be collected by a drone camera. For example, in the form of a photo of the neighbor sunbathing. On the other hand, flying over property is dependent on the permission of the owner or proprietor. In short: Just as you should ask questions beforehand, if you want to photograph the living rooms of others from the street, you should do the same with drone photographs.

When are drone-images of people allowed

You do not need to worry if you take pictures in a family or private environment. Also, pilots who are commissioned to take pictures for family events (such as a wedding) are protected. It is important to note that the pictures remain exclusively in the private sphere, and no public area is recorded. When recording crowds of people, where the drone pilot and the persons depicted have not negotiated a contract, the drone operator can justify the recordings for a good reason. For this purpose, in case of dispute, it must be established that the pilots’ interest outweighs that of the portrayed person. An example would be taking pictures at festivals for advertising purposes. When children are photographed, the case often tends to be in favor of the children. In general: If the persons depicted agree or if there is a contract, then the recording is safe. We expressly advise against the distribution of pictures in which people are recognizable, for example, via the Internet. Even indirect identifiability can cause legal difficulties. There is an exception if the persons are blurred or so small that they are not identifiable. In case of doubt, image processing programs can help. In case you want to move your drone over foreign private territory, asking is the best way. With the consent of the property owner, possible annoyance, or even confusion about strange drones can be eliminated in advance.

What is the Data Privacy Day?

January the 28th was initiated as Data Privacy Day, in Europe also known as Data Protection Day,  by the Council of Europe in 2006. Since 2007, the European Data Protection Day reminds us that in 1981 the “Convention 108” was signed. The “Convention for the Protection of Individuals about Automatic Processing of Personal Data” is the first Council of Europe convention devoted to data protection and obliges the signatory states to protect against the misuse of personal data in the electronic data processing. In 2008, the United States of America and Canada joined the agreement. The aim is to sensitize people to the topic of data protection and to emphasize the importance of protecting personal rights. Threats and unmanned aircraft systems are also affected by the topic. At FlyNex, we understand data protection as part of “Drone Data & Workflow Solutions”.

Your FlyNex Team


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