On December 18, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) group, “Unmanned Aircraft systems Privacy, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Working Group,” issued a set of 15 best practices to help government agencies think about civil rights and civil liberties when using drones. DHS states in its publication that they do not intend to regulate any government entity, but instead seek to share best practices that have been identified to help sustain privacy during drone operation.

Specifically, the best practices include:

  1. Consult Your Legal Counsel, Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Experts to Ensure Legal Authority and Compliance;
  2. Clearly State the Purpose of the Unmanned Aircraft Program;
  3. Stay Focused on the Purpose of the Unmanned Aircraft Program;
  4. Designate an Individual Responsible for Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Compliance;
  5. Stay Involved from Conception Throughout Deployment and Thereafter;
  6. Conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment and Document Privacy Compliance;
  7. Limit Collection, Use, Dissemination, and Retention of Unmanned Aircraft System Recorded Data;
  8. Respect Constitutionally Protected Activities;
  9. Have a Redress Program for Individuals that Covers Unmanned Aircraft System Activities;
  10. Ensure Accountability in Management of Unmanned Aircraft Program;
  11. Properly Secure and Store Unmanned Aircraft System-Recorded Data;
  12. Review Agency Procurement Solicitations;
  13. Transparency and Outreach;
  14. Train Personnel; and
  15. Develop Procedures to Handle Unmanned Aircraft Systems Support Requests.

While these best practices are specifically for federal, state and local agencies, private sector companies may also find these suggestions useful and helpful as a roadmap for their own privacy compliance when operating a drone, too.