23 October, 2014
During a debate in the House of Lords, Baroness O’Cathain, member of the British Digital Skills Committee, admitted to being “horrified” after discovering pictures of her house and garden appeared on the Internet. These pictures appeared on Google Maps, or as O’Cathain herself described it “on a Google map or something”. The baroness stated she had absolutely no idea how these pictures had been taken and ended up on the Internet. Not withstanding the fact that the member of the Digital Skills Committee seems unfamiliar with Google Maps, her remark indicates an important development concerning drones and privacy.
O’Cathain made her remark during a debate concerning the rising popularity of drones that are able to take pictures and videos. Within the general public, this development has already resulted in questions concerning the relationship between the use of drones and the protection of one’s right to privacy. Such a public opinion can play a big role in the use of drones. O’Cathain’s remark reflects the lack of knowledge that exists with the general public when it concerns the possibilities that drones offer and the legality of these possibilities. For more information on the privacy-related issues of drones, see our presentations on the subject.
Additionally, Paul Cremin, member of the British Department of Transport, emphasised the fact that more and more consumers buy a small drone, often with an integrated camera, without realising drones are subjected to aviation law. The participants of the debate expressed concerns about the possible dangers drones may pose to conventional manned flights, as they are operating in the same airspace.
The public and private use of drones has proven to be a controversial subject in the Netherlands as well. This summer, the Dutch drone industry called for EU-wide harmonisation of legislation, which should establish a level playing field with other EU Member States.