Drones have been gathering momentum and their use in day-to-day society is only increasing as time goes on. Of course, with the rapid rise in popularity in these devices, legislation relating to privacy issues has not had time to ‘catch-up’ and accordingly, we are seeing many cases where people don’t know where they stand in relation to:
a) Using their drones legally; or
b) Objecting to someone else’s use of a drone.
Drones of a significant weight (more than 2 kg) are required to be registered with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and their pilots must hold an operators certificate. However, smaller drones (which are now widely available in retailers throughout Australia) are not subject to any specific legislative provisions, provided that they are flown below 121m, are used away from crowds/restricted areas and are not flown at night or in cloudy/dangerous conditions.
As it presently stands, the Privacy Act has a threshold requirement of $3M annual turnover in order to be applicable, which will likely not be of assistance to those members of the public seeking redress against a drone owner. Likewise, State surveillance laws are inconsistent and outdated in relation to the use of personal drones and it is expected to be sometime before they are revised and amended to capture drone usage.
Understandably, it would be frustrating if someone was using their drone to hover over your property, take unsolicited photo/video/audio footage or be used for any other purpose which is intended to intrude on one’s privacy. In those circumstances, one may be able to commence an action under relevant legislation pertaining to stalking and/or domestic violence.
In the meantime, we would recommend that if you own a drone, you operate it in a safe and respectful manner, or you could find yourself at the receiving end of a lawsuit.
Affinity Lawyers is able to assist you with many areas of law. If you have an enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced and professional team today on 07 5563 8970.