With a new generation of small, affordable quadcopters, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), finding their way into consumer retail, and used for everything from hobby flying and sports broadcasting to agriculture and search and rescue. And as they take to the skies in our cities and countryside they are throwing up fresh challenges to lawmakers and privacy advocates alike.
Sky TV grounded its camera drone until the Cricket World Cup following an incident involving a "toy" drone in Dunedin, and a crackdown by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has resulted in three operators being fined over safety concerns – one involving a near miss with an aircraft in Taupo.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges signs off the Civil Aviation Authority's proposed new rule, New Zealand is set to be the first country to allow drones off the line-of-sight leash.
Civil Aviation Rule Part 102 - Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certification will also come into force on August 1 and will enable people who want to operate outside the existing rules for unmanned aircraft to do so if they have in place a plan to manage the safety risks.
An incident in February, in which a parent used a drone to photograph a Featherston primary school swimming event, suggests the potential for privacy breaches.
From August 2015, operators in New Zealand wanting to fly drones over private property will first need to get the consent of the property owner. The CAA says the new rule does not specifically consider privacy but was created to aid safety. Nevertheless, the authority is working with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to promote relevant privacy law.