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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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I could be in so much trouble

22 December 2021

As I sit here contemplating what to do with my time over the wonderful summer ahead, I contemplate some mischief.

The internet has already demonstrated on many occasionsl that it's hard to cope with something, at least from a legislative perspective, that ignores geographical, and political borders.

We've seen the fiasco that has been the Dotcom saga where the USA wants to extradite someone for crimes they allegedly committed whilst not even in that country.

We're also seeing the effects of ransomware gangs, organised cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers that commit crimes in countries half a world away, without ever leaving their homes.

And now *I* have had an idea!

I'm going to have to consult with a lawyer first, because I wouldn't want to *really* get in trouble but...

I've been reading the Civil Aviation Act. To be honest, it is so much better than your average work of fiction. It has many plot twists, violence, deception and a very unexpected ending. Even better, it's a great cure for insomnia.

As I read it, The Act empowers the director and minister to make "rules" to ensure things such as safety. These rules become the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR).

If you break a rule you can get in trouble and be fined or even imprisoned.

Best we avoid that!

However, because these are "rules/regulations" and not acts of parliament, they are not "crimes" as such.

Store that in the back of your mind for a moment.

Regular readers will recall that I was thinking of providing a "virtual" tourism experience for those poor sods locked down in a bitter Northern Winter. Using drones I could fly them around all the cool places, giving them a first-hand (first-person) view of our glorious country in mid-summer.

Well the problem with that is that to do so would require a mountain of paperwork, due to the rules and regulations that prohibit flying a drone in most of our national parks or over anyone's property without gaining prior permission.

Then I had a thought... what if *I* wasn't flying the drone at all?

What if the person in the UK, EU, USA or whatever was "the pilot in command"?

Thanks to the internet and modern technology it would be relatively trivial to knock up some code that would allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to plug their game-controller into their PC, log into a website and effectively be able to control a drone right here in NZ. The camera on the drone would relay the picture back to the screen in front of the foreign pilot so they could fly the drone themselves.

The best thing about this is, at least as I read it right now (and I could be totally wrong), *I* would not be breaking the law by facilitating such flights.

You see breaking a "rule/regulation" is not the same as breaking a law, as far as I can tell. Breaking a regulation is generally handled by way of a summary fine rather than a criminal prosecution and that perhaps is the crux of the matter.

Because...

If flying over a national park without permission was a "crime" and subject to criminal proceedings because there was some line in a act of parliament that expressely forbid it then I could be liable for "conspiracy" or "aiding and abetting" under section 66 of the Crimes Act. However, I don't believe (someone will likely correct me if I'm wrong) that there's such as thing as "conspiracy to break a rule".

So, at least in theory (based on my likely-flawed reading of the law), I could take a drone out, connect the battery and flick a switch that would hand control over to someone half a planet away. They could then fly around to their heart's content and the drone would then return and land at the spot from where it took off.

The person flying the drone would have committed no offence in their own country since they weren't flying *anything* there. They may have committed an offence here in New Zealand -- but are they really going to be extradited to face a $600 fine for breaking "a rule"?

This is all of course simply a "thought exercise". I have no intention of actually doing anything that could remotely be considered dangerous or even unsafe and the experts behind the desks of the Ministry of Transport and CAA must surely know better than someone with 60 years of hands-on experience, what's safe and what's not. I would never challenge their obvious superiority when it comes to such matters.

Yet... how much fun would that be eh?

Although, CAA seem to be far less concerned with drone safety this summer than they have been in years-past. I invited them to come on a YouTube livestream so as to provide advice for people that might end up being the new owner of a drone over Christmas. They declined -- saying that nobody would be available for such a thing.

Safety remains one of their top priorities, obviously.

Keep an eye on my YouTube channels over the summer... you never know what you'll see there (watch for bears and sticks).

And, as a footnote, tomorrow will be the last Aardvark of the year (I'm having Christmas eve off).

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