Drone Code point 20. Respect other people and their privacy

I’ve made myself a small sheet of card to go inside my drone bag, to remind myself what I can/can’t do (and to quote to a passer-by if I get questioned) e.g. that I can fly over people and/or residential areas (Mini 2). The 1 point of the code I’m struggling with is point 20 (pasted below) - the guidance is very open to interpretation. If I want to fly over a residential area and take an aerial photo - what minimum height do other flyers think is OK (for a Mini 2) without contravening privacy? I’m thinking 50 metres is sensible as that distance is referred to in other contexts…

If your drone or model aircraft is fitted with a camera or listening device, you must respect other people’s privacy whenever you use them.

If you use these devices where people can expect privacy, such as inside their home or garden, you’re likely to be breaking data protection laws.

It’s against the law to take photographs or record video or sound for criminal or terrorist purposes.

Any photos or recordings you take may be covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


50 metres is reasonable IMO. Don’t let the aircraft loiter in one spot though as that will get people thinking you are following them with a super-spy many-times-zoom to deliberately capture close up images.

If challenged you could always invite them to see for themselves what little detail is seen from fifty metres by showing them the screen on your controller. If they are still insistent that you are breaking privacy laws admit defeat and turn off your phone and, if necessary press the RTH button on the controller. Tell them that lkilling the phone has deleted the footage they object to. :slight_smile:


50 at a minimum and get it straight up to that height. However regardless of how high you are if someone complains be ready to have to delete that footage.

If you want GDPR advice look at the recent court case where someone was taken to court over their security doorbell. A fair few of those articles will detail how to have a GDPR policy and how and what to do to have a process that deletes footage people may say invades their privacy.


It’s all very subjective.

Look at Google Maps, the average height for a satellite taking pictures is what, 450 miles or so? Yet they still invade our privacy :roll_eyes:

I would suggest the content that’s captured is more relevant than the height at which you capture it @impreza280

The quality and level of detail captured with an Autel Nano+ at 50m will be very different to that of a Tello for example.


Thanks all - I’ll start with 3 points of guidance to myself:
a) Min height 50m
b) Delete footage if requested
c) Only share as required


Im a big supporter of the right to a private life so I will always go 50mts+ over residential property. But if some Karen wants to argue with me about where I can or cannot fly then I will always argue back because I am an awkward sod who has a rebellious streak running inside of me.
If I know I have the law on my side and what Im soing is not illegal or dangerous then why should somebody have the right to stop you doing a lawfull and safe action?
I certainly would not delete anything.


Whilst I get the google earth argument etc and have used it myself when someone on my area piped up about potentially being recorded at any of the hour of the day. The Law may be on your side that you can fly but it’s not necessarily on your side in regards privacy. If you’re in a residential area and recording and someone asks to see the footage you have of them or their property they are entitled to see it and request it to be deleted. If you don’t comply then you are falling fowl of the law. There’s a reason various properties are blurred on google street view etc. The owner has requested it.

It’s like everything else. Common sense with what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what your intention is to do with it afterwards.

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Not without a court order they aren’t.

Same goes if the police ask you


[quote=“PingSpike, post:4, topic:42621”]Look at Google Maps, the average height for a satellite taking pictures is what, 450 miles or so?[/quote] That’s not correct. Google use a combination of satellite imagery for the big over views, but more detailed coverage is from aircraft flying at as little as 800ft for some close up detail.
Google Maps - Wikipedia’%20satellite%20view%20is,other%20imagery%20is%20from%20satellites.

To get back to the OP question, maybe a good definition is that privacy is invaded when people are recognisable in images or video. Again see Google streetview blurring off people’s faces.

What would you think was reasonable if someone else’s drone was flying over your garden? Happy with a drone sitting there at 50m height with its camera pointed at your garden or bedroom windows? For how long?

^^^ This. Don’t make this about what is legal. Make it about what is reasonable to yourself and to those affected. And that depends what you are filming, not where you film it from.

Legally: you won’t get a clear answer as the law on privacy is incredibly unclear.


Time to pull the plug on the internet then, look at any social media from pretty much anywhere ;o(


Daft comment. We’re discussing the issue of people’s privacy in their own private spaces.

How do the paparazzi get away with showing pictures of a celebrity wedding via a helicopter, or when they take pictures of a celibrity that is peeking behind curtains?

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“How do the paparazzi get away with showing pictures of a celebrity wedding via a helicopter, or when they take pictures of a celibrity that is peeking behind curtains?”
They either take photos from publicly accessible places, or they get sued in the UK.
See Sir Cliff Richard: BBC pays £2m in final settlement after privacy case - BBC News


Having done this for a few years, most photos are run by the legal team, most are deemed ‘probably’ not allowed, they will publish anyway and hope the ‘celebrity’ does not sue.

Most ‘celebrities’ are playing the game however…

It’s a lot of years since I spent time ‘doorstepping’ as a young trainee, after what the press did to Caroline Flack they all want putting in jail.


A lot of the more detailed images are actually aerial images from aircraft (much lower, obviously) rather than satellite.


The CR case was more to do with the fact that they did all but accuse him of being a paedophile



That’s exactly my point :person_shrugging:t2:

It doesn’t matter if the camera is on an aircraft at 400ft up or a satellite at 4,000 miles up. The OP is looking for an arbitrary height number to put on the privacy aspect.

There isn’t one.

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This question of privacy is very subjective, MHO is this…If you take video/images through peoples windows then that is invasion of privacy, if you video/picture a group of buildings and you happen to capture someone in their back garden which is overlooked by other buildings, that is not invasion of privacy, because they have no privacy due to being overlooked by other buildings, if you video/picture someone in their garden and it is a remote location not overlooked by other buildings that could be invasion of privacy. As far as deleting images go, there is no one that can ask to inspect or make you delete images already captured without a court order…


Unless they use section 43 or 58a of the Anti Terrorism Act