Phones, drones and selfie sticks

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Apartment residents love their privacy as much as anyone but Jimmy Thomson discovers the new ways snoops have of keeping a watchful eye on you.

shutterstock_231257827If you thought neighbours snooping over your garden fence was a problem, this age of new technologies has made it worse … and apartment residents are far from immune.

The busybodies of unit block life are … well … busy. And armed with a copy of your by-laws (or rules) in one hand and the latest off-the-shelf spy equipment in the other, they are all equipped to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Did I say spy equipment?  What I meant was a variety of toys and leisure gear designed for innocent pleasures but employed with nefarious intent.

The Smartphone:  OK, it’s a phone but it’s also an audio recorder, video and stills camera (capable of taking astonishingly high quality pictures) permanently in a pocket near you.

Illegally parked? Ka-chick!  You are busted with a picture of your car, complete with time code, already on its way to the strata manager. Oh, yeah, did we mention it’s also an email device?

Drinking champagne in your swimming pool’s glass-free zone, in between cannonballs into the pool?  The scowling woman on the next sun-lounger isn’t texting… she’s compiling a video montage of you breaching any number of strata rules (and common sense).

The Selfie Stick: The extension of your arm that now drives concertgoers nuts, the selfie stick is a strata snoop’s dream.

No more hanging off balconies or  climbing on the roofs of building’s opposite with binoculars to see if your upstairs or next-door neighbour has an illegal cat.

The selfie stick is the periscope of the 21st century, and the attached phone does all of those photographic and email things too.

The Drone: You know those multi-rotor, radio-controlled flying machines with cameras on them?  They’ll take you up where you don’t belong and show you all sorts of things you aren’t supposed to see. But, hey, what have they got to hide, huh?

Is this legal? Astonishingly, yes.  In most states private individuals can photograph or film anything and anyone, anywhere, including in their own homes, provided it isn’t for illegal purposes, you aren’t on their property without permission, and you aren’t recoding sound.

However, if you are doing it for a corporation (like your building’s owners corp or committee) you could be breaking the law.  In short, you can film your committee members but they can’t do the same to you.

The same applies to the flying camera drone.  If it is being used for professional purposes, the drone pilot needs to have a license (as some real estate agents have discovered). But if it’s just a private individual checking to see where the barbie smoke is coming from, that’s OK.

Snoops have never had it so good … so what can you do? Behave!

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