AUSTRALIA’S new domestic drone program is causing a stir, with some worried about the effect on privacy.
The Bureau of Meteorology says there are now more than 6,000 drones flying over Australia’s capital city, Sydney.
It says the number of domestic and commercial drones operating is expected to grow by 50 per cent over the next five years.
But privacy advocates say the numbers are grossly inflated and worry the programs are leading to a national security crisis.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Statistics, Chris Glynn, says it’s impossible to determine how many domestic drones are operating in Australia.
“Drones are still an emerging technology that are very much a technology, but not necessarily a crime,” he said.
He said it was impossible to identify how many were operating illegally.
If you’re flying an aircraft over the city, and you don’t know it’s a drone, then you are probably breaking the law, Mr Glynn said.
He said the bureau was not aware of any domestic drone operations that breached Australia’s Drone Act.
Federal Labor has previously called for tighter regulations, including tighter restrictions on drones operating over public areas, like sporting events, cafes and pubs.
Under a bill introduced by Labor, commercial operators could face fines up to $5000 for every drone that fails to comply with local laws.
There are also proposals to create a new offence for people who “misuse” a drone by operating it in breach of the law.
In a statement, Mr Abbott’s office said it believed the program was a “safe, secure and efficient way of flying unmanned aircraft”.
“The Bureau is committed to making Australia a safer, more secure and more efficient place to fly drones,” it said.
“The Bureau continues to work closely with relevant regulatory authorities and agencies in Australia to make sure these rules are followed.”