Hefty fines, jail for drone users breaching privacy

Abu Dhabi: People using remote-controlled flying gadgets, including drones will face hefty fine and jail sentence if they are found breaching privacy of people, officials said on Monday.

While announcing a unified platform to register non-piloted flying machines in the country, the Ministry of Interior officials said those using lasers and flying objects in prohibited areas will also be punished.

The violators may face up to Dh50,000 in fine or could be imprisoned for three years for violating civil aviation rules of the country, they said.

Major General Dr Ahmad Nasser Al Raisi, Inspector General at the Ministry of Interior, said: “Operation of drones in prohibited areas is a big challenge, so this unified platform for registering these gadgets would help develop a culture of responsibility among drone enthusiasts in the country.”

Unauthorised drones pose a threat to the safety of people as well air passengers. It affects flight operations and passengers lose money and incidents in the past have proved it, Al Raisi said.

“Light flying mobility products rules are meant to regulate drone operations in the country and ensure safety and security of the society on land as well as in the air. Today, we have launched a unified system for registering such products under federal laws,” he said.

“If found operating without approval, we would confiscate their gadgets and the law will take its own course,” he said. “We have also defined rules for traders who import and individuals who use it for leisure purposes as well,” Al Raisi said.

Omar Bin Ghaleb, Director General of General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said: “Violators will be fined Dh50,000 or jailed for three years. The civil aviation law of 1991 clearly states that anyone who endangers lives of people or property will be penalised and imprisoned.”

So far, 3,200 drones users have registered their gadgets, he said. “Once a person registers, he/she agrees to certain guidelines and rules and they will be trained to operate the drones so that they don’t fly in prohibited areas near airports and near or over palaces,” he said.

“Now we aim to bring retailers, dealers and manufactures on this platform,” Ghaleb said.

Abdullah Al Maeeni, director general of Emirates Authority of Standardisation and Metrology (Esma), said, these objects will be classified as per their weight, size and specifications and speed. The platform is created to register all kinds of drones, including for leisure and professional use.”

Even the traders need to register their remote-controlled flying products with the Esma, he said adding, this unified platform will allow users to register their products at one platform, which is linked to Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, Esma, GCAA and the MoI.

Fact Box:

Register your drone at: http://www.esma.gov.ae

Registration fee: Dh1,200

3,200 people have registered their drones with the Esma so far.

Violators may be fined Dh50,000 or jailed for three years.

What is prohibited: Laser pointers, flying drones near airports, over palaces, areas prohibited by armed forces, diplomatic areas and over private homes.

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