Unwanted visitor: Peeping drone raises privacy concerns for Island family
Can someone legally swat down a drone that’s invading their privacy?
That’s the question a Vancouver Island mother is asking after one of the machines was spotted hovering outside her family’s apartment over the weekend.
The drone, equipped with a camera, buzzed around Tracey Hanson’s ninth-floor apartment at Bear Mountain Resort as she was cleaning her daughter’s deck Sunday night, she told CTV News.
“I look up and here’s this drone hovering around, basically staring at us, and it was a bit uncomfortable,” Hanson said.
“If it was out there in nature doing its thing, it wouldn’t bother us, but because it was literally looking in our window and looking at us and almost taunting [us], I didn’t like it.”
Hanson reported the drone to RCMP, who responded to the apartment complex off Lynburne Place Road – but no pilot, or drone, could be found.
She said police told her they’re investigating the incident and suggested the family purchase window coverings for their penthouse suite.
“We have a penthouse in this building for a reason. It’s a beautiful view and we didn’t want to put window coverings on it,” she said. “We don’t have to worry about anybody looking in, with the exception of a drone, apparently.”
Hanson, a self-described “protective mother bear,” said she’s not so concerned about her own privacy as she is for her 21-year-old daughter.
She’s now waiting to hear back from police about whether she’s within her right to take action if the drone returns.
“If it’s coming and encroaching on your personal space, then you should be able to dismantle it. If that means a hose, or if that means a paintball gun and having some fun yourself, or literally a net and catching it,” she said. “If you’re infringing on our privacy, then we should have every right to deal with it the way we see fit, based on obviously the letter of the law.”
Another tenant from the building who wished to not be named told CTV News that the incident wasn’t a case of a peeping tom, but a prank gone too far.
He said he and his friends were having a barbecue when another friend who lives in the building flew a drone over as a joke.
Privacy laws surrounding the use of personal drones in Canada are vague.
Transport Canada states that an aircraft weighing less than 35 kilograms and used for recreational purposes doesn't need permission to fly, but must "respect the Criminal Code of Canada related to trespassing and privacy."
The province has also stepped up its stance on drones, asking the transportation ministry to review regulations around the aircraft and introduce stiffer penalties for violators.
West Shore RCMP said they’ll be on the lookout for any more unwelcome drone activity in the area.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Chandler Grieve