FPF, Intel, and PrecisionHawk Release Drones and Privacy by Design: Embedding Privacy Enhancing Technology in Unmanned Aircraft



August 2, 2016
Contact: Melanie Bates, Director of Communications, [email protected]




Washington, DC – Today, in response to the Administration’s call-to-action on privacy protections related to drone operations, Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), Intel, and PrecisionHawk released Drones and Privacy by Design: Embedding Privacy Enhancing Technology in Unmanned Aircraft. The report highlights examples of privacy enhancing technologies and “Privacy-by-Design” applied to drones.

“FPF is proud to join with Intel and PrecisionHawk to release today’s report highlighting technologies and practices that help drone operators minimize collection and retention of personal data, obfuscate images of individuals collected from the air, and secure personally identifiable information,” said Jules Polonetsky, FPF’s CEO.  “The widespread adoption of geo-fencing and other technologies is enabling drones to reduce privacy risks while they tackle important, often life-saving missions.”

Diana Marina Cooper, Senior Director of Legal and Policy Affairs for PrecisionHawk said, “We often hear about privacy concerns raised by drone technologies.  This report shows how drone solutions can, and are, helping us solve real privacy concerns.  I hope this report inspires developers of drone technologies to seek out their own ways of building privacy into their products.”

The report describes concrete examples of how drone manufacturers, operators, and others are employing Privacy-by-Design principles to help users respect privacy and promote trust in drone operations. Privacy-by-Design principles state that developers should ask questions about what data is collected, how it is used, with whom it is shared, how much of that data is retained, and how data is stored and protected.  In doing so, they consider the benefits and risks of the use of data, and what steps can be taken to mitigate risk.

“The benefits drones promise are possible only if individuals trust that the technology will be used in ways that benefit them, their community and society” said Paula J. Bruening, Intel Senior Counsel. “They must also be confident that the information drones gather and process is protected and processed in ways that respect their privacy.”

Drones and Privacy by Design describes techniques that can be used to safeguard privacy and support responsible data practices, including practices described in the May 2016 stakeholder-drafted Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability.  “The best practices were developed through hard-won consensus within the drone community,” said John Verdi, FPF’s Vice President of Policy. “They articulate important principles that should guide drone operators’ data practices, and today’s report describes practical safeguards that can help operators implement those principles.”

FPF released Drones and Privacy by Design in conjunction with the White House’s first-ever Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation.

“Innovative commercial and government platforms and applications for UAS are helping to solve problems, save money, conserve critical resources, and even save lives,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. “The Administration will continue collaborating with public and private sector entities to further understand and explore safe and beneficial application of this emergent technology.”



The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) is a Washington, DC, based think tank that seeks to advance responsible data practices. FPF includes an advisory board comprised of leading figures from industry, academia, law, and advocacy groups. Learn more about FPF’s work by visiting www.fpf.org.