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Critical Infrastructures, Use of Drones and Data Protection Impacts

Critical Infrastructures, Use of Drones and Data Protection Impacts


Giovanni Maria Riccio
Università di Salerno


Fabiola Iraci Gambazza
Dottoressa in Giurisprudenza


SUMMARY: 1. Introduction. Drones: uses and categories. – 2. The Legal Framework of Critical Infrastructures. – 3. Main Issues and Revised Legal Framework. – 4. Use of Drones and Data Protection Before the GDPR. – 5. The Intersection between Data Protection and Drones EU Regulatory Frameworks. – 6. Member States’ Regulations on the Use of Drones. – 7. The Results of the Defender Project


Nowadays, when a reference is made to “drones”, it is a common thought to imagine an aircraft that does not need a human pilot on board. The reality is much more complex and the typologies of drones are wider.

Preliminarily, it is important to make a difference between two different drones: the Remotely Piloted Aircraftes System, also called RPAS, which are the ones that need a control by an human being with a pilot station and the ones that are “autonomous”. There is also another acronym which includes the two categories: UAVs, that states for “unmanned aerial vehicles”.

The history of the creation of drones goes back to war eras: the first drone was created before the first manned airplane and it was employed to surveillance and to combat for the first two World Wars (especially during the Second World War, when the drone technology was more intensively used). The Wright Brothers must be considered probably the inventors of unmanned flights, but Nikola Tesla too, and his studies about radio-controlled boat invention have strongly influenced the actual scenario.

During the Sixties, drones started to be used for stealth surveillance and new versions of drones appeared in Israeli, the country recognized to be “an aggressive UAV developer”.  Despite the initial and large military use – recently, especially for USA’s use of killer drones in Afghanistan War -, during the Nineties UAVs started to be object of interest for civil uses, thanks to the technological development and the consequent affordability and accessibility of drones.

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