Saturday 15 December 2018

Irish householders concerned about drone use over homes advised to avail of data protection laws

The warning came as Ireland is on course to have 10,000 drones registered by early 2019. Stock Image: PA
The warning came as Ireland is on course to have 10,000 drones registered by early 2019. Stock Image: PA

Ralph Riegel

Data protection rather than aviation regulations now offer Irish householders a route for tackling suspected invasions of privacy from unwanted drone operations.

The warning came as Ireland is on course to have 10,000 drones registered by early 2019.

However, the explosion in popularity of drones, remotely piloted aircraft which can range from 150 grams to several kilos in weight, has sparked a major debate over their operations.

There have been a number of complaints about drone use, several over recent weeks from people sunbathing or enjoying their back gardens who had drones fly over their properties.

Concern was focused on whether the drones were equipped with stills or video cameras.

In 2017, more than 95 complaints were lodged with gardaí. However, there has been only one successful prosecution although a number of actions are currently pending.

The majority of regulations covering drones come under the auspices of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

Drones cannot be operated above 17 metres if the drone is under 1kg in weight, over a gathering of 12 or more people, more than 300 metres from the drone operator, within a 5km radius of any airport or aerodrome, more than 120m above the ground; over specified restricted areas such as military installations or prisons, in controlled airspace, in a dangerous, reckless manner and from operating from private property without permission.

However, a spate of complaints from the public during the fine weather may be best dealt with through data protection regulations.

It is not permitted for anyone with a camera-equipped drone to record personal data such as faces, house numbers or even car licence plates.

Recording and storage of such information is a breach of data regulations.

Irish Independent

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