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Opinion

Expert strata, facilities & building management services

A drone on your backyard

By Paul Costigan - 12 May 2017 26

A curious thing happened in Dickson on Thursday this week. A neighbour was talking to a friend in his backyard when they became aware of a noise above them.

To their surprise, they saw that a drone was sitting above them, with what looked like a camera pointing down at them. They walked out onto the street and spotted a couple watching the skyline where the drone was flying.

The annoyed neighbour walked down the street and asked what was going on. They were told that the guy was from a real estate agency and the other person was a photographer with clearance (permission) to fly over people’s houses – backyards.

By now they were joined by another neighbour who had heard the noise and came to see for herself what was happening.

In the conversation that followed, the real estate agency rep and their photographer insisted that what they were doing was normal, that they had been doing this (flying over neighbourhoods) for six months and that this was the first time anyone had objected. To which was replied, “maybe this because no-one knows this is what you are doing?”

Part of the justification was that there was the prospect of a sale by the real estate agency in this street. But at this point there was no such sale – and more to the point – which was not answered, why were they flying the drone over peoples’ backyards up and down the whole street?

Since the incident, a couple of other neighbours have asked what that noise was all about – and to put it politely, they are not happy.

Yes we have all accepted Google and My Maps – being images of neighbourhoods taken using satellites; we have accepted the electricity authority flying helicopters around the neighbourhood to check on trees near lines; and real estate agents using drones on houses that are for sale – but real estate agents and their contractors flying drones over everyone’s backyards? Is that a line too far? Why do they need to do that?

The conversation around here is just how much of this style of intrusion should we accept.

We have sent an email through to the real estate agency – so we will see what they say.

Your thoughts?

Has anyone else experienced something similiar?

What’s Your opinion?


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26 Responses to
A drone on your backyard
1
dungfungus 9:15 am
12 May 17
#

It appears to be happening everywhere now. I am not aware that real estate agents (or anyone else) has carte blanche approval to operate these things over private backyards.

I wish I still had my childhood BSA Meteor slug gun and I was legally able to use it.

The incredibly hi-resolution photos the solar panel sellers and most government agencies have access to are intrusive enough.

The CASA regulations are here: https://www.casa.gov.au/aircraft/landing-page/flying-drones-australia

2
planeguy 9:33 am
12 May 17
#

Interesting. Our neighbour recently listed their property and included drone photography in their ad.

The company employed to do the photography, door knocked all the neighbours before starting, and the resultant video shows nothing but the house in question.

3
planeguy 9:35 am
12 May 17
#

I should ad, that the company or neighbour used was CASA approved – and I had a good chat to them about their operations (you can tell by my username that I have an interest in this aviation)

4
Paul Costigan 11:33 am
12 May 17
#

Dear planeguy,

what got people upset was the attitude – polite but patronising – when they responded to questions with word such as ‘you do not own the space above your house’ – so there is nothing you can do about ‘us’ using a camera capable of close up imagery of your backyard.

And do we know what they do with it – and who they could sell it on to? Everyone regards this as being a little too creepy!

and I can assure there was no knocking on doors or neighbourhood consultations / warnings – just a thing hovering above everyone’s backyard .

5
planeguy 12:04 pm
12 May 17
#

Not invalidating the concerns. More interested that a doner company wouldn’t consult properly, given the obvious (and real) concerns people have with privacy.

Surely the best way for those guys to keep their industry viable, is to communicate properly with neighbours etc, and give proper assurances on use of their system. If though don’t, then they can probably expect to have more restrictions /regs imposed on them.

6
Acton 1:15 pm
12 May 17
#

We should take strong objection to being filmed in the privacy of our backyard, or through the windows of our home. Potentially kids could be filmed using a drone hovering outside their bedroom window.

Because of the cheap and unregulated use of drones, now whatever you or your family do in your home or backyard could end up on youtube, or on a real-estate agent’s website.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/mt-martha-woman-snapped-sunbaking-in-gstring-by-real-estate-drone/news-story/c3eaaeb6318d7f01dcb4394da968340a

CASA recognises that there are potential privacy issues in operating drones, but doesn’t want to deal with the issue:

“CASA’s role is restricted to aviation safety – privacy is not in our remit.”

https://www.casa.gov.au/aircraft/landing-page/flying-drones-australia

7
dungfungus 2:03 pm
12 May 17
#

If one of these comes down your street, take cover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lID1VGQ9Da0

Watch until the end.

8
Paul Costigan 2:07 pm
12 May 17
#

9
John Moulis 3:18 pm
12 May 17
#

It happened to us during summer. Nobody asked permission, I was working out in Budgy Smugglers in the backyard with weights and heard a buzz like bees and looked up and it was there. I started doing bodybuilding poses and it got closer so the operator obviously liked what he saw. I daresay others are not so liberal about this sort of thing and regard it as an invasion of privacy.

10
dungfungus 4:01 pm
12 May 17
#

planeguy said :

Interesting. Our neighbour recently listed their property and included drone photography in their ad.

The company employed to do the photography, door knocked all the neighbours before starting, and the resultant video shows nothing but the house in question.

It showed only the house in question because the stuff not required was either edited out or deleted. The unused portion may still be on file somewhere. You may be surprised where this sort of recorded media turns up.

11
agent_clone 9:09 pm
12 May 17
#

I would suggest that the operator of the drone was probably flying it illegally. I’m going off this article:
https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/12/australian-drone-laws-what-you-need-to-know-before-taking-to-the-skies/

1) I presume the Drone wasn’t in line of sight given they were on the street and it was in your backyards.
2) It is obviously flying within 30 metres of people and buildings…

12
PlasticScene 11:16 pm
13 May 17
#

Was taking what WAS (past tense) a relaxing walk the other day until a drone flew over my and hubby’s head. Don’t know if it had a camera on it or not but it gave a yucky and invasive feeling.

13
Leroy60 8:32 pm
18 May 17
#

They’re trialling “disrupters” in a prison over in Britain. Wonder whether a domestic version is far off.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/16/british-prison-first-use-disruptor-create-drone-proof-shield/

14
Karma60 11:12 pm
18 May 17
#

Before everyone feigns horror about an invasion of privacy by drones, I think we need to keep in mind that we’re all photographed multiple times per day without our knowledge. Security cameras, dashboard cameras, mobile phone images, satellite maps etc. Real estate drone operators aren’t trying to see you or your kids naked or in a compromising position. They’re trying to show a low-level aerial view of one particular home in relation to a shopping centre, nature reserve or lake so that it looks impressive to buyers. If the agents used a chartered helicopter or cherry-picker instead would you be less outraged? In fact if a real estate photographer takes a standard street-level picture which includes a portion of the homes on either side, do the neighbours have the right to protest? After all couldn’t the photographer really be trying to get a glimpse through their windows? Why don’t we just ban all real estate photos? The whole scenario reminds me of a push in the 1970s to ban anyone taking photographs at beaches or public places (e.g Pitt Street Mall or the MCG). The theory was that everyone had to give permission for their photo to be taken before the shutter was pressed; apparently all photographers, including Japanese tourists, would be invading everyone else’s privacy if they didn’t comply. Thankfully calmer minds prevailed and most of us now accept that a photographer snapping a photo in Garema Place probably isn’t trying to catch us in a humiliating position. It’s the same with drone operators and real estate agents. No-one is trying to see your G-strings on the washing line – they’re just trying to sell a house in your area. Who knows? If they get a good price the value of your own home is likely to rise.

15
bikhet 6:57 am
19 May 17
#

Karma60 said :

Before everyone feigns horror about an invasion of privacy by drones, I think we need to keep in mind that we’re all photographed multiple times per day without our knowledge. … If they get a good price the value of your own home is likely to rise.

In most of the places you mention the people being photographed should have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The situation is different when you are in your own home – though what may be “a reasonable expectation of privacy” becomes at bit more convoluted when you are at home.

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