Written by on Oct 22, 2014. Posted in On Location

New code of practice for UK drone filming highlights privacy concerns

A new code of practice for filming in the UK with drones has been issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Referring to drones as ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAV), the new report urges operators to ensure they don’t breach data protection laws when using the devices.

Filming drones are typically small remote-controlled units fitted with multiple rotor blades that carry a moveable camera attachment. Usually the flight of the drone itself and the operation of the camera are controlled by two different people.

The ICO’s new guidelines highlight the risks of unwittingly infringing on people’s privacy and collecting their personal information by continually filming panoramic aerial shots, even if individuals on the ground can’t necessarily be immediately identified. With these risks in mind, drone operators are urged to carefully consider whether a UAV is really the most suitable piece of equipment for any given shoot.

“Individuals may not always be directly identifiable from the footage captured by UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), but can still be identified through the context they are captured in or by using the devices ability to zoom in on a specific person. As such, it is very important that you can provide a strong justification for their use,” the ICO states.

The report advocates highly visible shoot preparations – including messages on social media – to make sure local people are aware they may be filmed from the air.

Drones are becoming increasingly popular in the global production industry as a safe, flexible and cheaper alternative to putting an operator in the air in a helicopter, plane or balloon.

The commercial use of drones in the US is prohibited due to a lack of guidelines and overriding safety concerns. However, this could be about to change as six production companies recently got authorisation to use drones after a long period of deliberation from the Federal Aviation Administration.

(Images: Cloud 12, Corey Rich Productions, Dedicam of Switzerland)


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