05 November 2012


The Australian Privacy Commissioner has written to the Attorney-General regarding the use of drones.

The one-page letter - perhaps five minutes of time out of the Commissioner's no doubt very very busy schedule - centres on the comment that
The Privacy Act does not however cover the actions of individuals in their private capacity, including any use of drones by individuals.
I understand that there are laws governing unlawful surveillance, stalking and harassment that may apply to the use of drones by individuals. It is unclear however whether those laws provide sufficient regulatory protection, including appropriate restrictions on unreasonable uses.
In particular, individuals who may be subject to surveillance via drone technology may not currently be able to seek appropriate or consistent redress across the Commonwealth. The statutory cause of action for privacy that is currently being considered by Government could be useful in this type of situation.
I suggest that it may be timely to review the current regulatory framework to ascertain whether it is sufficient to deal with any misuse of drone technology. It may also be appropriate to raise this issue with the Standing Council on Law and Justice.
To adapt E M Forster, 1.5 cheers for the valiant Commissioner, whose initiative so contrasts with more substantive analysis from his peers in Victoria and NSW.