Call for drone law after incident in British Columbia, Canada.

August 21, 2014 |

How the law deals with the development of drone technology is a good study in what not to do from a public policy and legislative point of view.  At a Federal level in Australia and the United States the legislative response has been inertia.  Not even incoherence.  But not for want of notice or knowledge.  There have been no shortage of reports, news stories and expert advice on what drones do, will do and the privacy and commercial impact of their operations.

As with many changes in the privacy sphere it takes an incident to prompt a call to action (if not the action itself).  In British Columbia that was a drone hovering around an apartment block.  This is reported by News 1130 in  BCCLA wants updated laws for drones, following incident in Vancouver. Like Australia the options available under Canadian law are existing laws trying to cope with new problems caused by emerging technology.   Laws should, where possible, be technology neutral lest they become obsolete.  One civil option, the best one in my view, is a civil privacy tort at minimum.

The article provides:

VPD has received 10 complaints in recent months

Laws and regulations for drones need to be updated, according to a civil liberties group.

Micheal Vonn with the BC Civil Liberties Association says existing laws aren’t adequate for protecting peoples’ privacy.

“Citizens are exempt from privacy legislation if they’re taking photographs for personal, journalistic, or artistic purposes,” she says. “What we hadn’t contemplated, of course, when we put that together, was the idea that that cameras might be flying up the 37th storey.”

Vonn’s comments follow an incident this weekend, in which a person living in an Abbott Street apartment complained to police about how close a drone was hovering to his deck.

In fact, Vancouver Police say they’re getting more complaints in recent times over the flying craft. Sergeant Randy Fincham tells us the department has had 13 complaints overall, with 10 of those coming since May of this year.

“A number of those complaints revolve around privacy concerns, where the drones are being flown close to apartment buildings or close to windows, where presumably somebody could be seen inside that apartment or building in various states of undress,” he explains.

Fincham says people who violate peoples’ privacy with their drones could face criminal harassment or voyeurism charges.

One Response to “Call for drone law after incident in British Columbia, Canada.”

  1. Call for drone law after incident in British Columbia, Canada. | Australian Law Blogs

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