Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Game Of Drones

I spy! Here's one, hovering over
my place last weekend...! WHY??
The military use them.
Commercial opportunites abound.
They're the new toy-of-choice.
And they open up a minefield of legal questions...
Technically known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), drones are becoming more and more common. But this has triggered fears about their impact on privacy and aviation safety.
NZ's Privacy Act is a technology-neutral piece of legislation, by which the Privacy Commissioner assesses privacy implications of an emerging technology. While drones are a new technology, the threat they pose to privacy is consistent with the use of any camera, including mobile phones or automated CCTV systems. So the Commission's CCTV guidelines apply to how someone might use drones fitted with cameras and comply with the Privacy Act.
The main points for any camera operator to observe are:
  • be clear about why you're collecting information/footage;
  • make sure people know you're collecting it/how you intend to use it;
  • keep the information safe/make sure only authorised people see it;
  • dispose of the information after it's served its purpose;
  • right of access to the information by individuals concerned.
There are also other NZ laws relevant to using drones to film/record. EG: it's against the law to make covert intimate recordings of people without their consent/knowledge, and to publish them. So, if you're sunbathing in your fenced backyard, you'd rightly expect that you won't be spied on.
There's also the possibility the homeowner might want to take their own court action against a camera operator for invasion of privacy.
It is also against the law to peer into homes and record any activity within.
The Privacy Commissioner says it's important to keep the drone issue in perspective. People using drones should have the same consideration for others, as those who already use CCTV cameras on their properties or dash cams in their cars.
That's because the laws that protect people's privacy have been there for some time. While the technology of visual recording keeps changing, the laws and principles around the collecting/disclosing of information remain as relevant as ever.

UPDATE: 24 June 2015 – Rogue drone crashes onto Christchurch restaurant roof.

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