Drones and the invasion of privacy in Muslim lands

Last month I mentioned concerns about the use of drones in Muslim lands in two pieces (Drones and privacy in Muslim lands, and Privacy, Muadhdhins, and Drone Operators). I wrote that measures are needed to be taken to ensure that observant Muslim women are not denied access to outdoor areas where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy from unwanted male eyes, such as within the walls of their own villa or farm, or in many of the public parks, beaches, and open-air pools reserved for women. At the time of writing, my concerns were merely hypothetical. That is no longer the case, according to a Gulf News article published yesterday.

The Gulf News article includes quotes from an individual who reports seeing people abusing drones (second paragraph, below).

[Saeed Al Habshi said,] “If I am sitting in my garden with my family and see such planes above our heads I immediately take them into the house as I’m afraid the plane’s owner might take images of us and post them on social networks.”

He said that he had seen people misusing this technology, especially on Jumeriah beach where they take pictures of women and post the images on websites as a joke. […]

Al Habshi said nowadays in Al Ain a number of young people can be seen flying drones with cameras on in parks and near swimming pools and that members of the public do not realise the helicopter is taking images of them or recording them.

The article points out that there are legitimate civilian uses for drones and that they can be used responsibly.

[Loa’ai Ahmad] …fixes a camera to [his drone] when he goes to the desert or mountainous areas.

Ahmad said he used his drone responsibly but at the same time wondered whether such technology was legal.

The article closed with quotes from Lieutenant General Saif Abdullah Al Shafa’ar, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior.

[General Saif] pointed out that this pilotless rotorcraft is not prohibited in the country but its use will be regulated to protect people’s privacy.

He said that the police could intervene and take action if they received complaints from residents.

UPDATE When I first put up this piece, I referred back to one piece I wrote about drones. It turns out I missed a second piece. Links to both pieces are now included above.

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