Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by Brendan Gogarty, Lecturer in Law, University of Tasmania
image

Drone footage is everywhere, whether used to film extreme sports, outdoor events, nature, music festivals, or just for its own sake.

Recreational aircraft such as quadcopters, fixed-wing and mini drones are getting ever cheaper and easier to buy. They are fast becoming a must-have item for people who want to document their activities for social media, or just explore their neighbourhood.

As of today it will also be legally easier to use such aircraft in Australia, with the relaxation of Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules about “remotely piloted aircraft”, or RPAs.

The change is partly due to the significant challenges of regulating something that is so easy to buy and even easier to use. As a result, you can expect to see many more drones in the sky from today – and of course, given that they routinely have high-resolution cameras on board, you can expect a lot more drones to be seeing you.

Of course, some people want to be watched.

What do the relaxed rules involve?

The new, relaxed regulations – first proposed in April this year – will exempt drones under certain weight limits from licensing and notice requirements.

In particular, drones weighing less than 2kg will not need to be licensed at all. Owners only need to notify CASA of their use if it is for commercial purposes. Similarly, drones under 25kg can also be flown without licensing or notification requirements if they are used for “sport and recreation”, or if they are flown on private land and used for private aerial photography, spotting, communications or agricultural operations.

Operators of drones weighing more than 100g will still have to steer clear of certain areas, under the so-called “standard RPA operating conditions”. This means no flying in controlled or prohibited airspace; above 400ft (122m); at night; in swarms; over emergency operations without approval; within 30m of another person; out of the pilot’s direct line of sight; or in an area of “sufficient density of population for some aspect of the operation … to pose an unreasonable risk to the life, safety or property”.

What about privacy?

What is notably absent from the standard RPA operating conditions is any requirement to avoid flying over private property. Nor do the rules require the operator to respect the privacy of others or refrain from filming them, either on their own land or in public.

That may concern some people, because in Australia there is little legal recourse if someone films you in your backyard, in a secluded area or even through your window at home.

The loosening of the rules thus has obvious implications for privacy. Every new drone platform is basically an eye in the sky, capable of recording high-resolution images and video.

In 2014, a Commonwealth House of Representatives standing committee warned:

Remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) have the potential to pose a serious threat to Australians’ privacy. They can intrude on a person’s or a business’s private activities either intentionally, as in the case of deliberate surveillance, or inadvertently.

The committee recommended a raft of urgent legislative changes to counter the wide-scale adoption of “privacy-invasive technologies” like drones. But the recommendations were not taken up by the government, and nor was the committee’s echoing of the recommendation by the Australian Law Reform Commission that Australia develop a “tort of privacy” to guard people against intrusion by drones.

Such a measure would allow individuals to sue for damages if another person grossly violates their private life or affairs. While this privacy law remedy is available in other countries, Australian courts have generally rejected it.

This is largely a result of a 1936 court case brought against a man called George Taylor, who built a viewing platform on land next to Victoria Park Racetrack so he could call the races over the radio. The racecourse sued him for a breach of privacy but the High Court of Australia rejected the claim, not wanting to set a precedent by which neighbours could sue one another for simply peering over a fence. Chief Justice Latham’s reasoning was simple:

Any person is entitled to look over the plaintiff’s fences and to see what goes on in the plaintiff’s land. If the plaintiff desires to prevent this, the plaintiff can erect a higher fence.

This reasoning has prevailed in Australia ever since. But as the sky grows ever more saturated with cameras, it becomes harder to justify. No longer can you just build a higher fence, unless of course you want to box in your entire property from any aerial observation.

This is why the legal justification has been criticised by scholars, lawyers and privacy advocates, as well as by parliamentary bodies specifically in response to “privacy-invasive technologies” like drones.

Given that nothing has been done about it – even while agencies like CASA make it ever easier to record invasive footage – it may be time to accept that, in Australia at least, the age of privacy might really be over.

Authors: Brendan Gogarty, Lecturer in Law, University of Tasmania

Read more http://theconversation.com/new-drone-rules-with-more-eyes-in-the-sky-expect-less-privacy-66202

INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

The Conversation

Politics

Scott Morrison on Credlin

PETA CREDLIN: Thank you for your time tonight, PM I know you've got a lot on your plate. I'll get to the issue of bushfires in just a moment, but I can't let it go unremarked that with Australia Day...

Peta Credlin - avatar Peta Credlin

Scott Morrison interview with Ray Hadley

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray.    HADLEY: Jeez you copped a hammering while I was away.   PRIME MINISTER: Goes with the job mate.    HADLEY: Well, yo...

Ray Hadley - avatar Ray Hadley

Immediate small business support for bushfire affected communities

In response to the devastating bushfires, the Morrison Government has today announced a comprehensive suite of measures to immediately support impacted small businesses.    This initial package ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

2019 Hottest FinTech Startups Overview

Modern technology is experiencing rapid growth, so many industries expect a so-called revolution, and the financial world is no exception. Over the past ten years, people have witnessed the emergence ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Australians need to look out for this US Crypto-platform

Good news for Aussie sports fans as UssCyber is soon to launch its very own crypto-currency sports trading platform. UssCyber, a blockchain-oriented company based in Florida, is introducing “World S...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Choose the Right Data Recovery Solution for your Business

In the modern business environment, data is one of the most important commodities. A typical B2C seller, for instance, offering home delivery service cannot deliver the product to the right addres...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

The Family Travel Handbook from Lonely Planet

Everything you need to know to take unforgettable trips with your children   Full of practical advice, ideas and inspiration for every type of family, Lonely Planet's The Family Travel Handbook ...

Adam Bennett - avatar Adam Bennett

3 Ideas for a Family-Friendly Holiday to Bali

A family holiday is always an exciting time, but it can often come with its fair share of challenges, especially when trying to keep every member of the family happy. Thankfully, the beautiful islan...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Best Things to Do in Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills has long been a relaxing escape for the people of Adelaide and beyond. Its proximity to the capital makes it an accessible destination that feels like you’re miles away from the hustl...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo