Drones are taking off big time – both literally and metaphorically. These unmanned aerial vehicles will very likely change the way we do a lot of things today, and soon. Initially used only for military purposes, drones have now flown their way into racing, shipping and deliveries (with Amazon and other major retailers already pilot-testing the use of drones to that aim), surveillance and rescue, farming and agriculture, and others. Some experts predict that the drone industry will weigh a jaw-dropping 90 billion USD by 2025 (by the end of 2015, it was estimated at a 3.3 billion),according to Inc.com.
Often thought of as small, remote-controlled helicopters, drones have also dramatically stretched the limits of photography and videography. Bird’s-eye shots from the air are now so much more common and within grasp of both amateur and professional photographers alike (thus peppering our social media feeds with stunning landscape photos from the air like never before) making them cheaper. It is no wonder that some of the most inexpensive camera drones retail at only a couple of hundred bucks, like this Parrot Bebop.
Without a shadow of a doubt, drones are here to stay and if you’re thinking of purchasing one then you need to understand the laws surrounding their ownership and usage. This is essentially the UK dronecode as you’re about to find out.
A Summary: What You Need To Know If You Own A Drone In The UK
As with most of the technological advancements, especially when made commercially and widely available to the masses, drones have opened up a plethora of exciting opportunities and challenges at the same time. The UK government has therefore come up with a set of rules that aims to regulate this new and what often feels like unchartered territory.
If you possess a drone, the best thing to do is check the Civil Aviation Authority’s guidelines for detailed instructions. However, we thought we’d give you the gist of everything you need to keep in mind here:
- The drone always needs to stay within your sight
- Maximum allowed height is 122 m and 500 m from you horizontally
- Never fly above cities and people
- Never fly near aircrafts, airports and airfields
What About Privacy?
Two years ago, a drone hovering above a man’s backyard, where his two daughters were sunbathing, prompted a Kentucky man in the United States to shoot it down with his shotgun, reports Slate. The man later justified his heated reaction by claiming that “[w]e don’t know if they’re pedophiles looking for kids, we don’t know if they’re thieves. We don’t know if it’s ISIS.”
The incident can be seen as both funny and widely concerning. Although we don’t recommend solving any problems with fire weapons, the point remains: the drones can endanger our sense of privacy and safety. Drones can be used to spy on people. What do we do about this?
Would you approach a total stranger on the beach or in their backyard, shove a camera in his or her face, and take a photo? Hopefully not. The same goes for drones, especially if they are fitted with a camera. You need to be aware that a camera drone has the potential to be covered by the DPA, as it can cause – whether intentional or not – a privacy risk to others.
That’s why the law states that the drone must be flown “at least 50 meters away from a person, vehicle, building or structure not owned or controlled by the pilot.”
The blog Smashing Drones reminds us that “… the Data Protection Act will be applicable if you wish to fly a drone with a surveillance camera mounted on it and you end up collecting images of individuals who can be identified from them, even if it was unintentional.”
Final Words: UK Dronecode
To sum it up, be sensible while flying your drone and take into account your flying toy has the potential to breach the of privacy of others, or even lead to the physical harm of others. Fly your drone responsibly!
If you’ve got any questions about drones or the UK dronecode then be sure to get in touch with us for a free quote. We’ll gather a range of free quotes from our Linkilawyers on this issue so you can choose a lawyer that fits within your budget.