04 Jul 2022

Criminals using drones to check Laois homes

Laois meeting hears criminals using drones to check homes

Criminals are using drones to check if homes are occupied, according to a Laois councillor.

Laois councillor Caroline Dwane Stanley said, "we actually know that criminals were using drones to see if people were home or not." 

She sought clarification on the use of drones at a  recent Joint Policing Committee meeting in Portlaoise . 

Addressing invited members of the Data Protection Commission, Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley asked: “Is it illegal to have a drone over someone’s property?"

Assistant Commissioner at the Data Protection Commission, Gary Russell outlined the difficulty involved in taking action against drone misuse. 

While there may be an offence in such cases, “until we know data processing is taking place there’s not really much we can do,” he remarked. 

Mr Russell said the Irish Aviation Service(IAA) are working on the issue of drone use. At the moment the IAA is looking at a framework for drones and it includes a register of owners, he explained. 

He said that drone operators must obey certain height restrictions and other rules. He pointed out that not all drones were equipped with cameras. Mr Russell urged people using drones to be aware of their obligations under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  

If people believe that their data is being used they are more than welcome to make a complaint to the Data Commissioner, he told the meeting. He noted however, that regulations are unlikely to stop criminal use of drones and the “problem is identifying the controller.”


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