ANIMAL activists using drones to gather footage on farms are taking advantage of a situation where the law is yet to catch up with technology.
The techniques animal activists are using are opportunistic, NSW Farmers policy advisor Isabella McDougall said, presenting at the Rural Crime and the Law Conference in Armidale.
“For our members there’s a broader issue of who these people are obtaining access to the property and once they’re in there if they’re disrupting or hurting the animals in the process to gain the footage,” she said.
“There’s no context and no accuracy to that footage before it’s being put online.”
The issues with the law and technology is that if the person using a drone is on public property, technically they aren’t trespassing on private land.
Drones cannot be flown within 30 metres of people, but determining and enforcing these rules can be difficult.
Once footage is put online, there is no international law that requires it to be removed if the content is hosted in another country.
“Similarly if footage is being used by a broadcasting agency to propagate their own agenda, that footage has still been illegally obtained,” Ms McDougall said.
NSW Farmers presented at a state government inquiry into landowner protection from unauthorised filming and surveillance.
It’s a case where technology has overtaken legislation, NSW Police western commissioner Geoff McKechnie said.
“We know it causes a lot of concern for farmers and producers we speak to about the use of these devices,” he said.
“While there are offences available to use to charge people with, it is in some ways a grey area.
“Technology is being used to gather evidence and intelligence by these organisations and placed on social media and other mediums.
“The people depicted have no control over it and it’s quite disconcerting, we’ve seen a number of cases across the state and I think we’ll continue to see them into the future.”
The conference was held at the University of New England.