Droneshield is one of a number of developers of solutions that disable intruding drones.

We have had drone intrusions across our site. Is it legal to disable a drone? And can security or police in Australia take control of a drone, land it and confiscate it?

A: It’s illegal to interfere with an operating drone and it’s illegal to own drone countermeasures except in special circumstances – this rule applies in the U.S. and UK, as well as Australia. Further, no one in Australia can sue for breach of privacy unless the drone operator works for an organisation with an annual revenue of $A3 million.

There’s considerable pressure from police and from security experts in government and the private sector around drone countermeasures. Security and police are worried about drones used to for spying, or to aid criminals or terrorists. Last year, WA Police requested new legislation to give police the power to seize control of drones in the air or stop them taking flight.

In its submission, WA Police acting deputy commissioner specialist services, Paul Zanetti, said existing laws prevented law enforcement from interfering with a drone in flight, despite technologies being available to safely disable the devices. He called for legislative reform, as the importation of signal and drone jammers into Australia was banned unless exempt.

There are rules of operation around drones – no flying at night, a 120 metre ceiling, no flying within 30 metres of people, maintenance of line of sight at all times, no flights in an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway without prior approval, no flying over people – that means beaches, parks, events, sports grounds, public spaces.

There’s also no dangerous flying in relation to aircraft, people or property, and personal privacy must be respected – so no recording or photography without consent. Whether or not such rules could be leveraged to restrict overflights of your site will a matter of close consideration.

It’s worth having a read of the new drone laws that will be imposed by CASA by the end of July – these will license drone users and make investigations easier – but they still don’t allow security or police to control errant drones.

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