Limburgs Dagblad & Dagblad de Limburger, 10 August 2015: 'The new peeper'
Peeping in on your neighbours will be a breeze. For a few tenner, any brat can buy a drone with a camera, which will allow him to take aerial shots effortlessly and unobtrusively. But what do you do if you are the sunbathing neighbour?
Fuck, is the first thing that shoots through my head. Does he see me? Peering over my shoulder again, I see the little saucer still flying mere metres above me. I don't watch enough science fiction movies to believe aliens are trying to kidnap me in my own backyard, but I am tech-savvy enough to understand what it is: a drone. One of those unmanned aircraft that often has a camera in it, for taking aerial shots.
Am I lying there on my towel, with the genius idea to have a good tan today and turn my garden into a civilised nudist beach. Nobody sees me. I thought. Meanwhile, every second the buzzing sounds above me seem to last a whole day.That helplessness is perhaps the worst part. A peeping neighbour can still slap you, but what do you do when you are spied on by an unmanned aerial vehicle in the sky? When, practically butt naked, you are not only on someone's retina, but perhaps also on a dirty adolescent's computer screen?
There's not much you can do, says the Limburg police, when I complain. The legislation around drones is not yet clear in the Netherlands.
It is not prohibited. Moreover, you cannot prove that you were filmed, ma'am. And indeed, just know how to prove that you were filmed.
With the fact that the device flew over my fenced garden, I don't seem to have a strong case either. The drone is in the airspace, so not on private land. And you can make do with that as a potentially aggrieved citizen.
Vincent Böhre, director of Privacy First, speaks outrageously. What happened here is indeed punishable, he says. Whether filmed or not, a drone is not allowed to fly above contiguous buildings, including gardens. That is literally in the law. But Böhre also admits: in practice, it is difficult to prove that the camera (if any) was on.
Whether drones invade people's privacy has long been debated.
The police are increasingly deploying remote-controlled drones, for example to track down criminals. This is how new technology contributes to our security. But if you yourself are undesirably filmed, you will squeak differently. For just a few tens of dollars, you can get a drone like this, including a camera. Spying on the neighbours thus becomes a piece of cake. Anonymous and almost untouchable, you can go about your business. Because only when the images are online - and thus too late - is there sufficient evidence and the police can take action.
So the question is: how much privacy do you actually have in your own backyard? Should you take into account in advance that someone could be watching? The hedge lurker 2.0 lurks around the corner. (...)"
Source: Limburgs Dagblad & Dagblad de Limburger, 10 August 2015, p. 2. Also published in fuller form (including legal framework) at http://www.limburger.nl/article/20150810/REGIONIEUWS01/150809752/1056.