Drones are becoming more common. Although used for some
time for agribusiness, map making and by surveillance organisations
and insurance companies, smaller drones are now readily available
– in fact they seem to be one of the top Christmas gifts for
Be careful what type of drone you buy – drones that are 2
kgs or more, need to be registered with the Civil Aviation Safety
Authority (CASA). Anyone piloting these drones also needs to obtain
an Operator's Certificate before they can start flying the
drone in public airspace. Where public airspace begins is not
straight forward, unfortunately there is no clear boundary. Serious
drone operators should consider purchasing maps from CASA.
From 26 September 2016 onwards, if you are operating a drone
that is less than 2 kgs, you will be permitted to pilot that drone
during the day as long as it remains within your line of sight,
rises no more than 400 feet from the ground and is more than 30
metres away from members of the public. By remaining within 400
feet from the ground, you should stay out of public air space, but
bear in mind CASA can declare public airspace for particular events
or for emergencies. However, there are quite a few circumstances
that will effectively cancel out this ability, including:
If the flight is for commercial gain.
In a prohibited area.
In a populous area – which can include both residential
areas, such as a city, but, also a crowed beach, a sporting event
or any other once off events that cause an area to swell with
Within 5 kilometres of the movement area of an airport.
Anywhere where there is an emergency, police or fire operation
Be aware that if anyone operating a drone commits any of the
above breaches they can be fined up to $8,500.00 per offence.
Local Councils have the power to ban drones in public places
such as parks. However, the Council will not generally be able to
regulate the airspace in their area.
This is certainly an area of the law that is lagging behind
technology, however after 26 September 2016 new laws will provide
some comfort to members of the public who are concerned about the
increased use of drones and the perceived invasion of privacy.
Currently in Australia the "right" to privacy currently
only extends to personal information.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Under Australian privacy laws, organisations need to implement 'reasonable steps' to protect any personal information.
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