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Publication Title | Spiders in the Sky Drones Privacy and Security

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“Spiders in the Sky”: User Perceptions of Drones, Privacy, and Security
Victoria Chang, Pramod Chundury
University of Maryland, College Park [vchang90, pchundur]
Drones are increasingly being used for various purposes from recording footage in inaccessible areas to delivering packages. A rise in drone usage introduces privacy and security concerns about flying boundaries, what data drones collect in public and private spaces, and how that data is stored and disseminated. However, commercial and personal drone regulations focusing on privacy and security have been fairly minimal in the United States. To inform privacy and security guidelines for drone design and regulation, we need to understand users’ perceptions about drones, privacy, and security. In this paper, we describe a laboratory study with 20 participants who interacted with a real or model drone to elicit user perceptions of privacy and security issues around drones. We present our results, discuss the implications of our work, and make recommendations to improve drone design and regulations that enhance individual privacy and security.
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m. Information Interfaces and Presentation (e.g. HCI): Miscellaneous
Author Keywords
Drones; quadcopter; privacy; usable security; users
Drones are fast becoming popular in the commercial and noncommercial sectors for a variety of purposes such as providing Internet access, capturing media footage of remote locations, and delivering packages [4, 22, 29]. In fact, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) in the United States (US) forecasts the sales of commercial drones will reach 2.7 million by 2020 [14] and civil drones production is predicted to rise from 2.6 to 10.9 billion USD by 2025 [35].
Yet, regulation around drones has been slow to follow [33] although drones affect individual privacy and security because they can record or injure people [8, 32, 17, 39]. Even with recently introduced rules governing drone operation, the FAA only provides unspecified “privacy guidelines” regarding
Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from
CHI’17, May 06-11, 2017, Denver, CO, USA
©2017 ACM. ISBN 978-1-4503-4655-9/17/05...$15.00 DOI:
Marshini Chetty
Princeton University
drone usage [16]. To better inform privacy and security enhancing legislation to regulate where drones can go and what data they can collect, store, and disseminate, we first need to understand how users currently perceive drones, their purposes, and capabilities.
In our work, we build on a growing number of studies on understanding the privacy issues around drones; mostly conducted in countries outside of the US [22, 10, 2] with the exception of two closely related studies in the US [19, 39]. Our goal is to help create privacy and security enhancing designs for drones and policies. To achieve this goal, we posed the following research question: how do users feel drones affect their personal privacy and security expectations?
To answer this question, we conducted a study with 20 users in a laboratory setting at the University of Maryland, College Park (US). Each user interacted with a real or a model of a drone to better tease out how drones affect their privacy and security concerns and their attitudes towards drone regulations. We have two main findings. First, we confirm that concerns raised by prior studies such as drones invading privacy through watching and spying [39] still hold a year later in another part of the US and provide new evidence of negative perceptions around drones such as fear of damage or injury and unwillingness to disclose personal information under drone surveillance.
Second, we provide further evidence confirming findings from Wang et al. [39] that drone design, including the color, size, speed, and noise of drones shapes peoples’ perceptions of privacy and security. We also provide new evidence that a drone’s form factor, wind, guard, movements, camera location and quality, data recording capabilities, and feedback lights also affect privacy and security perceptions. Based on our findings, we make three recommendations for improving regulations and creating drone designs to enhance peoples’ sense of privacy and security around drones.
Drones, Usage, and Capabilities
Drones are defined as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft systems, quadcopters, multicopters [8, 22, 1] and can vary in size and capacity from toy drones (micro UAVS) to military (tactical and strategic UAVs) drones. First favored for military purposes, drones are now being hailed for the private sector, law enforcement [38], and hobbyists [8, 22] for non-threatening purposes because they can go to places where people cannot easily go and are becoming

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