Remote-controlled drones that can record video footage are being sold in large retail stores, alarming privacy experts who say they could be used to spy on people.
Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim is cautious about the growing use of camera drones.
''It is concerning that this type of equipment can be easily purchased and used by individuals, potentially without any limitation on their use,'' said Mr Pilgrim, who recently wrote to the Attorney-General raising his concerns.
As Mr Pilgrim points out, under Australia's 1988 Privacy Act, private sector organisations with a turnover of less than $3 million are not subject to regulation, leaving plenty of scope for abuse.
The executive director of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Australia, Peggy MacTavish, said people using drones were subject to privacy and public safety laws, including the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's regulations for unmanned systems.
''Our membership ranges from the multinational corporations … right down to individuals who want to fly for recreation,'' she said. ''Even if it's recreational there are rules and regulations that apply.''
Ms MacTavish confirmed that drones were increasingly being sold by Australian retailers, including at Melbourne Airport, and sales to private citizens were growing. ''They're everywhere,'' Ms MacTavish said.