The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) released
its comments on the notice of proposed amendment
(NPA) to the Civil Aviation Regulations published by Transport
Canada in the CARAC Activity Reporting Notice, no. 2015-12 (May 28,
The proposed amendment is to develop regulations for unmanned
air vehicles (UAVs) (see summary here).The OPC highlights three key areas of
concern: operator identification; appropriate use, and use over
sensitive and protected areas.
The operator identification issue is critical for accountability
and the enforcement of any regulation. While the OPC does not
propose an identification method, it does mention three
alternatives: physical plates, painted numbers or decals and unique
signature signals (as in RFID). It recommends standardized
means to specify which commercial or government organizations might
be operating UAVs.
Appropriate use is already a basic premise of both federal data
protection laws in Canada, i.e. the "business need" or
"program purpose" requirement for the collection of
personal data. The OPC recommends a distinction in licensing
between the bona fide "public interest" uses in contrast
to purely commercial applications, particularly where the
collection of personal data may be excessive or where the operation
of a UAV occurs in areas such as residential areas, schoolyards,
shelters, hospitals, prisons, places of worship and memorial sites,
all of which carry some expectation of privacy.
Sensitive and Protected Areas
Current regulation restricts operation of UAVs over certain
areas where people might congregate, due mainly to safety concerns.
The OPC suggests that similar restrictions be explored with
regard to privacy concerns particularly over privacy sensitive
areas. Some states in the U.S. have passed bills prohibiting drones from
photographing people on their private property without their
While stopping short of calling for regulation, the OPC
nonetheless highlights Argentina's regulatory regime with
respect to UAVs, and draws attention to its own guidance on the use
of video surveillance for investigative purposes. It is of interest
to note that some manufactures are coding "geo fences"
(see our previous post here) in their firmware that use GPS or
other technology to limit UAV movement.
Transport Canada intends to introduce the new regulations in
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