The DAB agrees, in principle, with the establishment of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Owner Registration System online by the government for UAS weighing over 250 grams — requiring UAS owners to register themselves and their UAS — and for the prescribing of training and/or assessment requirements based on risk categories. Legislative Councilor Holden Chow is of the opinion that where practicable and effective, there should be in place, a UAS registration and tracking system, especially for commercial UAS and their operators, to ensure that when accidents do occur that operators who are not registered owners can be quickly identified and their information accessed by the authorities.
Holden Chow believes that apart from requiring “Category C” Higher Risk UAS operations and operators to purchase third party liability insurance, purchase of suitable insurance coverage should also be required for “Category A2” (UAS weighing above 250 grams but do not exceed 7 kg) and “Category B” (UAS weighing above 7 kg but do not exceed 25 kg). And as for indoor operations of UAS, since indoor operations of UAS have become increasingly common, the government should, prioritising public safety concerns, consider establishing a separate set of operation guidelines. Property owners and managers must fulfil their duties for monitoring UAS operations on their premises, and the government must also provide law enforcement capabilities in order to prevent dangerous indoor operations of UAS.
Understanding that the public is concerned about the issue of privacy related to UAS equipped with image capturing and recording functions and devices, Holden Chow points out that should the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) receive complaints for drones or UAS, the PCPD already has the authority to check the recorded contents collected by UAS. The PCPD has already issued a Guidance on the use of drones from the perspective of protecting personal data privacy that includes the need for operators to “pre-define” — before flight — “what, where and when to conduct recording to avoid collection of unnecessary personal data” and inform affected people of the operation of the drone by, for example, displaying corporate logo and contact details clearly on the drone.
In regards to how to further protect the privacy of residents, Holden Chow hopes that the government will study ways of allowing members of the general public access to the UAS registration system for appropriate reporting purposes should they feel their rights have been violated by UAS operators.