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Attorney-General seeks advice on privacy implications of drones

The Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has sought input from his state and territory counterparts on whether the use of drones is adequately regulated.

In a letter to privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim that published today but sent in March, Dreyfus said while the use of drones is not regulated by the Privacy Act, there is some legislation that covers their use.

This includes Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998. States and territories also regulate surveillance drones.

"State and territory anti-stalking provisions may also apply to the operation of surveillance drones in some circumstances," Dreyfus wrote.

"I have written to my state and territory counterparts seeking their views as to whether the use of surveillance drones is adequately regulated by legislation they administer."

Pilgrim in September wrote to the Attorney-General about the use of drones and concerns around their ability to record and stream video.

"While drone technology has clear benefits, such technology presents a number of risks through its potential to be privacy invasive. The risk is heightened because drone equipment is increasingly commercially available, and can be easily purchased and used by individuals in their private capacity," Pilgrim wrote.

While the Privacy Act includes provisions for organisations to notify individuals if their personal information is collected via drones, Pilgrim said there is not the same regulation in place for individuals using drones in a private capacity.

He said the laws were unclear about what type of regulatory protection was in place, such as restricting "unreasonable uses," he wrote.

"In particular, individuals who may be subject to surveillance via drone technology may not currently be able to seek appropriate or consistent redress across the Commonwealth. The statutory cause of action for privacy that is currently being considered by Government could be useful in this type of situation."

Pilgrim called for a review of the regulatory framework to determine whether it adequately covers the use of drones and suggested it could be raised with the Standing Council on Law and Justice.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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