The ongoing adoption of drone technology creates a number of new questions about privacy. To this end, we recently completed our first drone-related investigation. We’re confident it won’t be the last.
In this case, a man was in his apartment near a sports stadium. Sky TV was using a drone to film a game, and in doing so the drone came close to the man’s apartment. The man filed a complaint with us, saying that he had not consented to being filmed.
We contacted Sky TV, who clarified that their drones are not constantly recording. Rather, a producer contacts the drone operator when he or she wants to capture footage. The drone is lying in wait (or flying in wait, as it were) at all other times – including its flight past the complainant’s apartment.
Our opinion is that the man’s rights were not violated under the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act deals with the way agencies gather and handle information. Since the drone wasn’t recording, it wasn’t gathering information. A drone that is not recording is no more a violation of your rights under the Act than any other object, such as a lamppost, parking meter or sewer grate.
The case does raise some interesting questions for the future. For example:
These questions are just a starter. Help us out by adding any issues you can think of in the comments below.
Please bear in mind that the aviation rules for flying drones are about to change. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that the new rules will take effect on 1 August 2015.
Among the proposed changes will be a prohibition about flying over parks or houses unless permission is obtained from all affected people. You can find out more about CAA’s changes here.
You can also read our earlier blog post about drones and cameras here.
(Image credit: Danny Piercy - Creative Commons)