Brooklyn Law Review


Sean M. Nolan


The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) recent promulgation of civilian drone regulations triggered the growth of a new consumer industry. As this industry grows, so do the privacy threats it presents. Drones with advanced technological capabilities can record and store a wide range of data, without the consent of the data’s source. Privileged information captured by drones—whether for innocent purposes or not—is in turn vulnerable to misappropriation, as civilian drones are far from hack-proof. Despite the likely privacy implications of large-scale drone legalization, the FAA’s new regulations do not include any privacy protections. This note provides a criticism of the FAA’s new drone regulations, with a focus on their disregard for the privacy threats presented by civilian drone legalization. As an illustration, this note more specifically analyzes the privacy concerns presented by civilian drones’ vulnerability to hackers. It concludes that new federal legislation is necessary, and suggests some potential contents of drone privacy regulations that would help combat the privacy problems associated with civilian drones’ mass entry into United States’ skies.