Personal drones are privacy pests

| 14/02/2017

I was sitting on my patio yesterday, drinking my coffee and enjoying the breeze when I heard a whirring noise. When I looked up there was a drone watching me. It flew over the house and then came back again and landed at a house in Canal Point. I heard that there is a rule about flying drones within three miles of the airport. Are drones banned from flying within three miles or do they have to fly below a certain height? What are my rights regarding drones flying over my house? Can I complain? Who do I complain to?  I found “drone blockers” online. Are these legal? What if the drone blocker causes the drone to land in the canal? Am I liable?

Auntie’s answer: Before I get into the specifics of your question, I feel I must offer ample warning: I do not think I will be able to avoid a fair bit of ranting at some point in this column. If you are OK with that, then continue reading.

Let’s look at the legality of drones in Cayman first. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands weighed in on this issue early last year (see Drones banned from prisons and airports). As the reader pointed out, drones are banned from within three nautical miles of the airport, and also one nautical mile of HMP Northward. I think (hope) the reasons for both of those restrictions are obvious but in case they aren’t, the referenced article explains all that.

While there are licensed operators here, your question is clearly addressing the casual hobbyist or, worse, some youngster with a newly gifted drone of his or her own.

(Cue my ranting.)

I completely understand your annoyance – and possibly horror – at seeing (and hearing) a drone overhead interrupting your peaceful morning coffee. It seems that anyone with some extra cash and a fully charged battery can become the next terror of the skies around your house. I believe that most models come with a recommended minimum age for flying a drone, but pardon my cynicism when I say that I am not confident that will be followed every time.

And while the unseen someone is flying a drone over your yard, they can certainly see you. This to me is an incredible, unacceptable invasion of privacy. But if you live more than three nautical miles from the airport, I am not sure this action is liable for any prosecution.

As for using a drone blocker, which basically jams the radio frequency signal to the craft, that doesn’t appear to be a good solution to me. You pointed to a scenario where the drone winds up falling into the canal. That seems certainly a possibility but I suppose other things can happen as well, like it dropping on a person or a car. My advice would be to avoid that option.

In my opinion, the increasing use of drones presents a very real privacy problem and their use should be restricted legally sooner rather than later. If you agree and are able to vote in the Cayman Islands, I suggest you make this known to the candidates in your district. (See who is running here.)


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Destroy it. Accidents happen.

    • Anonymous says:

      That would be criminal damage.

      • Anonymous says:

        On the basis of? Trespassing?

        Accidents happen.

        Spying is not illegal? Those drones usually have cameras on them.

        • Anonymous says:

          So you are advocating criminal damage and perverting the course of justice? That will be get you jail time, sonny.

          • Anonymous says:

            You won’t get jail time. You will solve the problem of trespassing and harassment by your unfriendly neighbor. The polo won’t show up if you call for either party complaining and the court won’t waste time with such a nonsense case.

  2. Helen Lewis says:

    Please ask your reader (s) to check out DeTect Inc’s DroneWatcher APP which is free on Google Play
    You can read more about it on our website The APP records data including the drone type, ID and other information that can be used to document incursions and support apprehension and prosecution by local law enforcement if it comes to that.
    Thank you

  3. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile in other news, coffee breaks in Syria were be interrupted with Chlorine gas attacks resulting in the death of children

    • Anonymous says:

      what is your point? Are you going to carry all the world’s tragedies on your shoulders? This obsession with tragic events is a sign of a mental disease that half of the world’s population suffers now, thanks to the instant communication.
      Local Media , thanks for that, is staying away from mass hysteria about world’s tragedies. There were, there are, and there always be tragedies since the time whoever created a “human”.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is my point precisely, that is you failing to understand the post. It was intended to put a different perspective. While someone is whining about a pesky drone and not even offer proof that privacy is being invaded there are far more serious things to worry about.

  4. Marksman says:

    In the UK people are using air rifles to deal with these pests; unfortunately in the Cayman Islands air rifles are regarded as firearms and a licence is needed to own one. Start a campaign for a change to the firearms law to make airguns available to anyone over, say, 18 years, and it will solve both the drone and green iguana problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      You do not own the airspace around your property and are likely to end up in court yourself and pay damages if you use a firearm to bring it down, and probably charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm as well.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All comments that say, just relax, we are(were)not watching you are the same idiots with dogs off its leash that say when a dog runs toward you: it won’t bite, don’t worry.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The first thing I would say is, have you identified the owner and asked them to stop? I find so many times people go online and complain etc. without even trying to just talk out the problem with the parties involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Quite right, 10:06, I’ve been doing that in Bodden Town with the Jamaicans throwing trash out their cars into my yard, blasting us all with their car stereos and letting their dogs roam loose everywhere. Seriously, you must be living in some cocoon somewhere where neighbors are rational and considerate……Yacht Club? Vista Del Mar?

  7. anon says:

    Trust me, the drones were not watching you. Chances are people like us just want to make cool videos for YouTube. I don’t know who was flying it, but they could have just been practicing.

    If you ever find out who it was and they’re a sensible person, addressing them politely about it should solve your problem.

    If you really feel strongly about it, plant some trees in your yard. When they mature you will get shade, more privacy (aerially), and a higher property value.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The person who wrote in can relax, we weren’t spying on them. We were hoping their cute daughter was sunbathing there again.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m assured by friends in the USA that a 12-gauge shotgun is pretty effective against drones.

    • Whatcha Say says:

      Actually, so is a simple “catapult” as they are known here! Been there, already done that!!