3. Why is this handbook important?
The information in this handbook is important for the following reasons:
- More and more people are using drones without necessarily being aware of privacy laws. Recreational drone use is increasing as a hobby and as a means to record personal pursuits, treasured memories and experiences, whether they are on holiday, at a local park or with friends and family members.
- Privacy matters relate to both the drone as an aircraft, as well as to the payload, the equipment or software that is fitted to the drone (e.g., photographic equipment, thermal cameras, GPS, communication relays). For instance, the mere presence of your drone in a park might make people feel uneasy or like they are under surveillance, which can threaten their privacy. If your drone is equipped with a camera or any other data recording sensor, this risk is even greater.
- The degree of impact of drone use on the privacy of individuals can depend on:
- The purpose for which drones are used
- The extent and type of personal information (images and audio of individuals and their private property) that drones capture
- How that personal data is used/ processed
- Who is flying the drone
- The context and location of the drone
This handbook will help you understand what privacy risks arise during recreational drone use, such as during the example provided below:
During the Christmas period, many families gather in the local park for Christmas festivities. You decide that this would be the ideal occasion to test your new drone and prepare a short video. After having received all the necessary authorisations from the competent authorities, you start operating your drone in accordance with aviation safety rules. During your flight, you specifically target close up images of people gathered in small groups and record their conversations from a safe distance. Once your drone has landed, you start preparing a Christmas holiday video that you wish to share with family and friends via social media channels. In this case, you can threaten the privacy of people in the park by capturing them in a moment when they relax with their families and enjoy themselves. Even though they are in a public space, you should not focus on the people specifically, target them or their loved ones, get close-up shots of them and record their conversations, regardless of your intentions. However, you would still be allowed to take pictures of the entire park, sweeping panoramas and footage of the event as a whole, provided that no particular person/s is/are singled out.