Peeping drones raise privacy concerns

Daily Buzz
A student drone project at Carleton University is aimed at helping farmers monitor their crops economically.

The sky is literally the limit when it comes to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, as people continue to come up with creative uses for them.

Yet some drone occurrences have people feeling a little creeped out, with the latest incident coming out of Vancouver.

Kathryn Redford caught a drone trying to capture images of her suntanning topless on her private balcony, The Province reports.

“I wasn’t expecting it. It felt like an invasion of privacy,” Redford told The Province. “I’m 100 per cent for drones … but this is perhaps someone who is not a responsible pilot.”

Redford lives on the second floor of her apartment building in Kitsilano, British Columbia. Although her balcony isn’t high up, it’s still secluded “by a brick wall on one side and a large tree on the other side.”

So as she has done in the past, Redford was tanning topless and reading her book on her balcony.

That’s when she heard, and then saw, a yellow quadcopter with a small flashing light hovering by her balcony.

Immediately Redford covered herself with her book, and then the drone took off.

As she started gathering her belongings to go inside her apartment, the UAV shockingly returned and remained near her balcony for a half-a-minute.

“To me, in my mind, it was trying to get a different angle,” Redford said. “This felt like it had a mission.”

After putting on her shirt, she looked over her balcony for the UAV’s operator, but couldn’t spot them. She then filed a report with the police, though they couldn’t do much.

“Although someone does have a right to privacy in their own home, unfortunately, if someone is sunbathing in plain view, there is a potential that the person could be seen and possibly photographed by others in the area,” Sgt. Randy Fincham with the Vancouver Police Department told The Province in an email.

Over the last couple of years, Vancouver police have received UAV-related complaints.

Last year, Laura Moffett from Victoria spotted a drone hovering around her property “trying to peek inside her home,” CBC News reported.

The actions were not criminal and no charges were laid.

The same thing happened with a Vancouver man who filmed a drone spying on his high-rise condo.

“If you live in a high-rise building certainly you do have an expectation of privacy within your own home,” Fincham told The Province. “But certainly if you going to be in a state of un-dress or in a compromising position […] then you might want to consider closing your blinds.”