Crackdown as drone buzzes palace

Crackdown as drone buzzes palace

City Hall banned the use of drones without a permit in Phnom Penh on Monday after a German man allegedly flew his quadcopter over the Royal Palace within view of the Queen Mother as she performed her daily exercise routine.

Daun Penh district’s Chey Chumnas commune police arrested the man, who’s name was not immediately available, and brought him for questioning on

Saturday afternoon after palace police reported that Queen Mother Norodom Monineath saw the drone flying over the courtyard, Royal Palace defence unit deputy Keo Vy confirmed.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said on Monday that the queen was shocked by the appearance of the drone and that City Hall had immediately reacted.

“The drone takes photos from the sky while the resident is taking a bath or eating in private. How do you think they will feel?,” Dimanche said. “We do not know their intention. It will affect the right to privacy and the top ministries and national offices will fear potential terrorism.”

From now on, Dimanche said, people seeking to fly their drones in the city will need permission before doing so, in order to respect the safety and security of others.

Oum Daravuth, an adviser to the Queen Mother’s secretariat, said he had not seen the City Hall letter issuing the directive and so could not comment.

Filmmaker and drone pilot George Jefferies said it would be a shame to ban the use of drones as they are increasingly being used in Cambodian media productions.

“In the UK, drone pilots need to register with the Civil Aviation Authority and the operator has to be insured. It would be good if Cambodia could implement a system like this so that video productions can still used drones in a controlled way,” he said.

Freelance photographer and drone pilot Kimlong Meng said he understood that in some situations drones could pose a threat to people’s privacy.

“It could be a violation of other people’s privacy if the drone users do not know well how to control the drone and fly to a private area of other people such as private villas, factories and so on,” he said.

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