The story below says that the universities applying for drone permits want them for research purposes. Even so, one can’t ignore the potential for trouble.

Oliver Darcy of Campus Reform reports.

Thirty-four universities applied to FAA for drone permits in 2012

Thirty-four universities applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2012 for permits to operate drones, documents obtained earlier this month by a watchdog organization reveal.

The list, assembled by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) through a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA, includes prominent institutions, such as Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of California – Davis.

EFF spokeswoman Rebecca Jeschke told Campus Reform last Wednesday that most of the applications from universities were intended for academic research, but still warned of potential privacy violations.

“I think it is really important that no matter what you are using the drones for that there is an appropriate privacy policy,” she said.

“You should think through what happens if you catch someone on video,” Jeschke added. “How long do you keep that video? Do you cut that part out before you save it? What if someone is caught on camera doing something embarrassing?”

Jeschke also advised universities to fully disclose the details of their unmanned aircraft and/or vehicle programs to their students.

“[T]hey should let students know if they are recording, how they are recording, how long they are keeping it, what purpose they are using for, who has access to it, all those important questions,” she said.