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Exclusive: Upcoming policy to require storing of drone footage which will be open to government scrutiny

Courtesy: Cyberabad Police twitter | Representational image

You're reading it here first: Drone operators will have to store footage captured by their drones, which will be open to scrutiny by the Indian government, under an aerial photography policy currently under the works. This could mean that law enforcement agencies that deploy drones might be potentially required to store footage captured by them. This information was revealed by Amber Dubey, joint secretary at the Civil Aviation Ministry, during a call with industry representatives on Wednesday. The policy is currently being “streamlined with help from our friends in the MoD [Defence Ministry] and MHA [Home Ministry]", Dubey added. Dubey's revelation came in response to a question raised by MediaNama over the surveillance threat that drones pose to Indian citizens, especially when they’re used by law enforcement agencies. We asked this question in the context of several instances of unregulated drone use by law enforcement agencies — such as over CAA protestors last year, and over the ongoing farmers’ protests. According to India's current aerial photography policy, aerial photography from drones is not permitted unless a clearance has been secured from the DGCA, India's civil aviation regulator. However, currently, there is no need to store a record of the drone footage. Terming privacy issues posed by drones as “sensitive”, Dubey spoke of the drone acknowledgement numbers (DAN) that the government has been handing out to legacy drones which don’t comply with a core requirement under India’s current drone rules. Under the rules, only drones which comply with the “no permission, no…

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