Experts call for tougher laws on drones

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Following the release of Liberty Victoria’s report, The Use of Drones in Australia: An Agenda for Reform, a panel discussion will discuss the need for tougher laws on drones tomorrow evening.

Liberty Victoria has made nine recommendations following the release of the report, proposing regulation prohibiting the installation or use of surveillance devices and the communication or publication of private records obtained through the prohibited installation or use of surveillance devices (subject to broad exceptions).

According to Colin Biggers & Paisley special counsel Dan Brush, unless personal information is indefinable, the current regulation does not prohibit drone usage for collecting information, only the publication of material collected.

“If they are up so high that all you can see if roof houses and streets and nothing particularly identifiable, that’s probably not regulated at all in Australia, provided that the person operating the drone has the appropriate licence,” he said.

“People have a greater sense of their own privacy and are becoming particularly resentful that their activities that they think are private are somehow accessed and publicised.”

While Brush said there are many positive uses for drones such as first response and crowd control surveillance, he said the increased availability as technology improves will leave the general public more vulnerable.

“The ability to misuse a drone by stalking or harassing a person, there are already laws against stalking and harassing but the laws are written in terms of a person stalking and harassing.  But if somebody wanted to follow a celebrity with a drone, the ability for them to do so will only increase in the future and that should probably be regulated,” he said.

Panellists Matthew Albert, Liberty Victoria policy committee member and barrister, executive member of the AAUS board Peggy MacTavish and Dan Brush, Special Counsel at Colin Biggers & Paisley will discuss the gap in drone regulation at the Colin Biggers & Paisley Melbourne office tomorrow evening.