A drone owned by Sky TV did not breach a finger-pulling apartment-dweller's privacy when it flew within metres of his property, the Privacy Commission has ruled in its first investigation into the controversial unmanned flying craft.

In a decision released today, the commission said the drone flew within 10 metres of an apartment.

"The complainant was irritated by this and gave the drone 'the fingers'," the decision says.

Chris Neves operates the drone for Sky TV.


He said in future, he won't be filming over private dwellings for sports events.

Mr Neves also works for production companies.

When filming shows or advertisements, permission for a drone was sought from the council as part of the consent process.If he needed to film over private houses, the production company would do a letter drop and give people time to oppose.

It is understood the man who complained lived in an apartment overlooking Wellington's Basin Reserve.

Sky TV spokeswoman Kirsty Way told NZME News Service the drones were pulled for a time after an incident in Dunedin when its drone was competing for air-space with a privately-owned craft.

They returned for the Cricket World Cup after the television company increased its health and safety procedures.

"It's our intention to use them [this summer] and we have got no problem operating within whatever rules there are," Mrs Way said.

"We have to take it ground by ground. Some are suitable and some aren't."


Mrs Way couldn't say if the drone would return to the Basin and she said she wasn't aware of any other privacy complaints over drone use by the network.

"It's quite a new technology, so people have quite a close eye on it. It's not our intention to push any boundaries. We just want to get the best sport coverage we can."

So far, Mrs Way thought drones had only been used on cricket broadcasts.

During last summer's New Zealand versus Sri Lanka cricket series, Sky TV for the first time used a drone to capture aerial footage of the grounds and surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, new rules have this month come into effect requiring drone users to have consent of people and property owners before flying over them.

The man who laid the Privacy Commission complaint thought the drone might have captured "highly sensitive information in an unreasonably intrusive manner".

He was unsure if the drone was filming or if anyone saw the footage of him, which he said he had not given consent to.

The complaint to the commission said the drone use breached parts of the Privacy Act dealing with the collection of personal information.

These principles specify when personal information can be collected and for what purpose, what someone should be told when their information is collected, and how information should be collected.

Sky TV told the commission when the cricket producer wanted to look at footage from the drone, he would radio the craft's operator and tell him pictures were being recorded.

"Sky TV said that despite how it appeared, the drone was not recording footage the entire time it was in the air," the commission decision says.

"Sky TV accepted that its drone may have flown past the complainant's property, but said the drone had not recorded or broadcast images of the complainant, or the inside of his property.

"Sky TV also said the TV control room did not view any footage of the complainant or his property."

The commission found no breaches of the Privacy Act and said a separate investigation by the Broadcasting Standards Authority found no breaches of the Broadcasting Act.

Footage of two women on the balcony of another apartment was broadcast. In that case the drone operator sought their consent through a hand gesture and they indicated they were fine with that.

"This was the only footage that was broadcast of identifiable individuals," the commission decision says.