Ireland: Regulating Drones: Safety, Security And Privacy

Drones are becoming increasingly more commonplace in Ireland and across the globe. From aerial photography to assisting search and rescue operations, drones can be put to a variety of beneficial uses. However, the use of drones also carries concerns relating to both safety and privacy.

We examine how drones are regulated in Ireland and review the upcoming proposals at EU level. We also consider the privacy issues surrounding the use of drones and the steps that should be followed if a drone is being used for commercial purposes.

The Irish regulations

The Irish rules that govern drones are the Irish Aviation Authority Small Unmanned (Drones) and Rockets Order (SI 563/2015) and the Irish Aviation Authority (Nationality and Registration of Aircraft Order) (SI 107/2015) (the "Regulations").

The Regulations provide that all drones weighing over 1kg must be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority ("IAA"). Also, a drone should not be operated if it will be a hazard to another aircraft in flight or operated in a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of others. The Regulations include a variety of other restrictions and prohibitions, including that drones should not be flown:

  • closer than 5km to an aerodrome,
  • more than 120m above ground level, or
  • further than 300m from the operator of the drone.

To fly drones outside these limits, permission of the IAA must be obtained.

Potential measures in the EU

On 1 December, the Council of the EU agreed a draft regulation (the "Draft") which represents proposed EU-wide rules for civil drones. Currently, the EU is responsible for regulating unmanned aircraft above 150kg, with lighter drones being subject to national rules.

The Draft will apply to all varieties of drone, from small toy drones to large unmanned aircraft. The rules seek to set down basic principles to ensure safety, security and privacy. The main rule affecting drones is that national aviation authorities will have to certify certain drones. The certification process will be proportionate and risk-based. The larger the drone, and the higher the risk it poses, the more likely the drone will be required to be certified. Privacy will also be taken into consideration during the certification process.

It's worth highlighting that the legislative process is on-going and that the Draft currently provides the European Aviation Safety Agency with the power to develop more detailed rules on drones.

Privacy and data protection

Both the Article 29 Working Party and the Data Protection Commissioner ("DPC") have expressed concerns about the use of drones in such a way that could affect individuals' privacy. These concerns are particularly focused on instances where sensors such as smart cameras and radio frequency equipment are added to drones.


The DPC suggests that the data collected by drones, which are equipped with additional sensors, should be limited to what is strictly necessary in order to achieve a specific purpose or purposes. For example, a drone used for taking aerial photographs of landscapes should not be used to record peoples' faces.


Transparency is another key privacy-related issue for drones. The DPC recommends that drones should be visible and easily identifiable in appearance. In addition, the DPC suggests that efforts should be made to highlight the fact that recording of data is taking place. This might entail making clear to the general public in the area in which a drone will operate by using signage or advertisements in local newspapers.


The DPC states that robust security and access controls should be put in place. This ensures that any personal data collected by the drones can only be accessed by authorised people.

4.Retention and anonymisation

Personal data must only be retained for as long is necessary for the purpose or purposes for which it was collected. A drone owner, who is also a controller of personal data, may look at installing software that automatically deletes personal data when a task is completed.

As an alternative to this, it may be appropriate to install technology that automatically blurs or obscures faces of people that were inadvertently collected.

Privacy and commercial drone use

According to the DPC, if a drone is being used for a commercial purpose, a privacy impact assessment should be undertaken before the drone is used. This assessment should take into account the purpose the drone is being used for, the potential risks to data protection, and the necessity to implement safeguards to address any concerns.

It would also be prudent to put a Drone Usage Policy in place which would outline the uses of any personal data and the security and retention policies that surround the collected data.

Before take off

Drones, and their use, are becoming subject to increased regulation, both from an aviation safety and a data protection standpoint. Given the likely implementation of EU-wide measures on the regulation of drones, it is important to keep up-to-date on applicable rules and obligations. In particular, both consumer and commercial operators of drones should ensure to familiarise themselves and comply with rules on safety, security and privacy. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions