Update: HK privacy commissioner issues guidance on drone use

Apr 2, 2015

by Doreen Weisenhaus with contributions by Rick Glofcheski and Yan Mei Ning (Expanded Second Edition, Hong Kong University Press 2014)

April 1, 2015 (SCMP) — Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang has released new guidelines on the use of drones.

Users are urged to avoid flying them too close to other people or their homes, and to post notices at locations and announcements on social media before using drones. The guidelines call for flashing lights to be fitted to drones to indicate if they are recording and that irrelevant recordings should be erased.

Chiang warned that the privacy threat was comparable to that of surveillance cameras because “drones can perform as powerful surveillance tools when fitted with cameras”.

Almost all drones have cameras and the higher tech ones have infra-red or heat sensors. Some made on the mainland sell for as little as HK$400 in Hong Kong.

There is no specific regulation on their use. Civil aviation law requires anyone who operates an unmanned aircraft over 7kg for leisure or commercial shooting to apply to the Civil Aviation Department. Application is not needed for anything under 7kg.

Press release, “New Guidance for the Responsible Use of Drones, Office of the Privacy Commissioner, 31 March 2015

Guidance on CCTV Surveillance and Use of Drones, Office of the Privacy Commissioner, 31 March 2015