The use of drones, a.k.a. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) has increased dramatically over the last few years. Consequently camera mounted UAV’s raise issues concerning privacy.

UAV data information recording methods vary but can include video cameras, microphones, GPS and high powered zooms. A major concern regarding privacy and UAV’s is that they can be used to record identifying personal data (such as vehicle registration numbers) and/or personal data (such as images) of individuals without their consent. It is important to note if an operator is certified to operate in a ‘Specific Category’ then this allows that operator to sell any footage or images taken with their UAV.

If a UAV has a camera, the data it records may be covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 and/or 2018 (DPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as there are potential privacy risks and therefore UAV operators collecting, holding or using personal data or identifying personal data should ensure that they comply with their obligations under the DPA and GDPR.

Compliance requires, among other things, that organisations gather and use footage fairly and lawfully. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides guidance to operators on their website. This includes only recording in appropriate locations and letting people know before you start recording.

The UAV and 6K camera platform a.k.a. ‘The Rocket’ used by Empathic Productions Ltd. (pictured above), is a professional, ultra-high definition vision system with interchangeable lenses, capable of flying at speeds up to 94 kph in adverse sub-zero polar or baking desert temperatures. It is a twin piloted system, usually requiring both a navigator/pilot and a camera operator. The footage obtained is typical of the content seen on any action blockbuster screening and is now the industry standard for today’s aerial cinema recording. The resolution and colour rendition of the images, allow us to utilize the platform alongside our ground production equipment, to replicate crane shots and difficult to manoeuvre dolly shots, both in studios, and on private locations. We use a low distortion, 9mm wide-angle lens which creates stunning, high speed, aerial close-ups

Outside of privately controlled studio environments operated by film companies, UAV operators are subject to the aviation regulations which are enforced by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). These include:

Always keeping the UAV in view (normally understood to be 50 metres horizontally and 400 feet vertically).
Keeping the UAV away from congested areas (this is referred to as any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes).
Keeping the UAV at least 50 metres away from a person, vehicle, building or structure not owned or controlled by the UAV operator.
It should be noted that if a UAV is flying more than 50 meters above your private property, it is unlikely to fall under this regulation. However, if a UAV is flown over private property without the individual’s permission, the drone operator might be liable for trespass. It should be noted that no one owns the airspace above the ground property so seeing a UAV flying above your property does not mean that you will automatically have the law on your side. On the other hand, if you have asked a UAV operator to stop filming over your private property, and they continue to do so repeatedly, it may constitute harassment.

If you believe Empathic Productions Ltd. has recorded, collected and held your personal data without your permission, the first step would be to contact us and also refer to our public privacy policy. Individuals have the right to access their data, receive a copy of their data and request to have their data removed.

Empathic Productions is a fully qualified UAV operator and holds the latest pilot training certifications demanded by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as well as the necessary insurance to perform commercial undertakings. It should be noted that the CAA no longer distinguishes between commercial and recreational UAV operations for remote pilot competency certifications. In order to carry out commercial operations we are required by law to hold a public liability insurance value of 750,000 Drawing Rights which approximates to £750K.

You are advised that it is illegal to approach and interfere with anybody in control of a UAV while the UAV is in the air. If you wish to communicate with a UAV operator, a.k.a. the pilot in the field, you should signal your intention from a distance and then wait and follow their instructions. Interfering with a pilot in charge of a UAV that is in the air is a criminal offense and may lead to prosecution by the relevant authorities. In the UK and many other countries interfering with or disrupting a UAV and / or the pilot carries the same penalties as interfering with a civil aircraft carrying passengers.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about Empathic Productions’ use of UAV’s or our Privacy Policy, please contact us:

By using our CONTACT page

By post: Empathic Productions Ltd. Innovation Centre Medway, Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent, ME5 9FD.

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