Privacy for Citizen Drones: Privacy Policy-By-Design

Privacy for Citizen Drones: Privacy Policy-By-Design

Significant policy questions have arisen from the nascent but rapidly increasing adoption of drones in society today. The developing drone ecosystem is a prime example of how law and policy must evolve with and respond to emerging technology, in order for society to thrive while still preserving its normative values.

Privacy has quickly become a vital issue in the debate over acceptable drone use by government municipalities. In some instancesprivacy concerns over the increased potential for government surveillance have even led to wholesale bans on the use of drones by municipalities.

Let me clear. This is a misguided approach.

Citizen Drones: delivering burritos and changing public policy

Citizen Drones: delivering burritos and changing public policy

It’s official: drones are now mainstream. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that consumers purchased 1 million drones — or if you prefer to use the more cumbersome technical term “Unmanned Aerial Systems” (UAS) — during the past holiday season alone. Fears about how government agencies might use data collected by drones, however, have led to bans against public agencies operating drones across the country. These concerns about individual privacy are important, but they are obstructing an important discussion about the benefits drones can bring to government operations. A more constructive approach to policymaking begins by asking: how do we want government agencies to use drones?

Civic Tech 2.0

Civic Tech 2.0

Deck from CivicTech presentation at Tech4Good. Hosted by Bloomberg Labs.





                                                                                              **FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**


Startup Policy Lab receives funding to help tech startups navigate law enforcement data requests and protect user privacy

SAN FRANCISCO, November 3rd, 2015STARTUP POLICY LAB, a tech nonprofit focused on innovation in government, today announced funding from the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Grant for its legal operations tool Canaree aims to simplify law enforcement data requests for startups while protecting user privacy.

Tech companies are seeing an increase in law enforcement data requests from government agencies around the world. But startups lack the money, time, or expertise to navigate these requests. Transparency reports by larger companies provide direction, but the lack of industry standards obstructs transparency -- making it difficult for small companies and their users to know how government entities collect and use their data.

“The Knight Foundation is a leader in tackling some of the most profound challenges society faces at the intersection of technology and policy, especially as it relates to data, transparency, and openness. We are honored to be a part of the program.” says Charles Belle, founder and CEO of Startup Policy Lab. “The Prototype Fund will support the development of Canaree and a new approach to legal operations while supporting transparency through better industry practices. Alongside support from partners Runway Incubator and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society (CIS), and collaboration with the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), Canaree is positioned to have great impact on the data request process and in helping startups and governments around the country.”

Canaree is currently live in a beta web version. Site updates and new features will be introduced over the six-month grant period. Startups can sign up to participate in the beta via the website at For media inquires or partnership requests, please contact Charles Belle at


Startup Policy Lab (SPL) is a tech nonprofit working at the intersection of technology and government. A modern day think tank and policy hack shop; SPL bridges the gap between startups and policymakers through education, tools, and events, and through The Policy Series, a discussion series featuring policymakers in technology. Past speakers include Miguel Gamino, CIO of San Francisco; Travis LeBlanc, Chief, Enforcement Bureau, FCC; and Lisa Ellman, co-chair of Hogan Lovell’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Group. SPL is headquartered in San Francisco, CA with chapters in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York. Learn more at



Charles Belle

Startup Policy Lab Programming Director

Drones to Connectivity as a Civil Right: A Debrief by Miguel Gamino, San Francisco’s CIO

Drones to Connectivity as a Civil Right: A Debrief by Miguel Gamino, San Francisco’s CIO

Drones? Connectivity as a civil right? Government competing with AWS? Everything was on the table when Startup Policy Lab held our first Policy Series fireside chat with Miguel Gamino, CIO of San Francisco at Bloomberg BETA. We covered a lot of ground. But the most important takeaways might be the need to go back to basics and figure out a way for tech and government to talk to each other.

Drone Policy FAQ Everything you want to know but were afraid to ask

Drone Policy FAQ Everything you want to know but were afraid to ask

The FAA now has jurisdiction over paper airplanes. So what does that mean?

A few months ago, Startup Policy Lab attended a luncheon in San Franciscoon the current state of affairs regarding the commercial use of drones and the future of legislation. Following the event, Charles Belle, Startup Policy Lab’s Executive Director, did a Q&A with CameraLends*, a startup working in the drone space, to talk about how existing aircraft regulations now apply to drones.

Startup Policy Lab: launching a tech nonprofit

Startup Policy Lab: launching a tech nonprofit

We hack policy and technology to innovate government.

Startup Policy Lab began almost two years ago with a simple goal: connect the startup community to policymakers. Fast-forward to today and Startup Policy Lab has evolved into a tech nonprofit, a West Coast policy shop.

People ask us this all the time: tech, nonprofit, policymaking, startups, how does this all work? We thought we’d have some fun and interview ourselves using questions people already ask us.

Why do we exist?

The policymaking system — the process by which people in government make and enforce laws — has to change in order to prepare policymakers for the challenges introduced by technology and entrepreneurs. Current policy has not kept pace with innovation, and that hurts industry. For example, policies governing drones have fallen behind innovators, private industry and even other countries.

There are many ways to change how policymaking and decisions are made— modifying technical architecture, upend legal regimes, organize the people, etc. — but our focus is to provide policymakers with the tools necessary to make more informed decisions.

Startup Policy Lab does this through technology, research, and programming that informs the policymaking process.

Policymakers have to make decisions. But policymakers generally don’t have access to high quality information (whether raw data, expertise or research materials) that can be impounded and acted upon quickly. The tools we build are designed to catalyze data-driven policy making.

We believe that policymakers can make more informed decisions if they have access to a larger pool of expertise in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This enables government to innovate as rapidly as society is evolving.

Are you a trade group and do you advocate for certain laws or legislation?

No. We are builders and we are conveners — operating as a bridge to bring together different stakeholders, but we do not engage in direct advocacy. Our tools are scalable and help policymakers at the local, state and national level make more data-driven decisions.

What do you do?

Government is only as effective as its resources. We believe the secret to innovating the policymaking process is to facilitate the access of resources for decision makers.

  • We develop software that help policymakers make informed decisions. We are developing new tools that empower policymakers to engage with experts and innovators to integrate innovation at the moment of policymaking.
  • We engage in independent research. With a focus on applied research and implementable solutions, we build big datasets and create multi-jurisdictional standards for policymakers across disciplines. After all, a white paper published into the digital wilderness is only useful if it can be discovered.
  • We use events to engage government with the startup community. The most important conversations happen face-to-face, and we are excited to expand our event series across the country with programming in New York and DC launching this summer. Innovation and policymaking are not limited to San Francisco or the Valley.

Who are you?

We are a team of policy wonks and technologists with a passion for making government operate more effectively. Our backgrounds include academia, startups, government (like the World Bank and White House), big tech companies (Cisco) and nonprofits (Mozilla). We have deep roots in the startup community and government which allows us to bridge the two.

Working with such a broad range of people has allowed us to develop an incredible community. One of our most critical partners and supporters is We call Runway our home, and the people here provide a supportive community that walk the walk of paying it forward. And one of our longest-running partners is Hackers/Founders the largest community of hackers and founders in the world with over 150,000 members, quite possibly one of the most passionate and diverse communities in tech.

We work with a lot of other great organizations as well: public, private, nonprofit and community organizations. We look forward to sharing more about those relationships in the future. We’re all about community.

A new approach to policymaking

It’s never easy being disruptive or creating a new concept that people aren’t familiar with. But something worth doing always requires a bit of work. We are incredibly excited to launch this adventure with innovators around the world in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

Our doors are always open for coffee. Get early announcements and news with our weekly newsletter and connect with us on Twitter (@startuppolicy@charlesbelle@moariane). Join us in making policy innovative.

Keep disrupting. Keep innovating. Keep moving forward.