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Update on NZ Police use of aerial surveillance drones

Posted on April 2, 2013

We've been keeping track of the Police use of new surveillance and tracking technology. We asked them what they've been doing with drones and here are the more interesting/informative answers (Police letter, 19th February 2013):

  • The Police currently have one aerial drone.
  • They don't have a specific budget for it and claim not to know how much they've spent on it so far.
  • They say that they can use it for tracking people and cars but promise to do it in accordance with the Search & Surveillance Act. We note that our interpretation of this says that they need a tracking warrant to use an electronic tracking system but we don't know if the Police agree with this.
  • The Police believe that their current policy concerning video recording operations and events also covers their use of drones.
  • The Police have been contacted by the Privacy Commissioner re their use of drones and will be meeting with them soon.
  • The Police expect their drone trials to finish by the end of 2013.

You may also wish to read this article about drones by David Beatson at NZ Pundit.

We're going to be following up to get more information. If there's any questions you want asked, please leave them in the comments.