Cambodia: Phnom Penh bans camera-equipped drones after royal encounter
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Cambodia: Phnom Penh bans camera-equipped drones after royal encounter

Authorities in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh have banned camera-equipped drones from being operated without a permit after a quadcopter was flown over the Royal Palace while the Queen Mother was taking her daily exercise.

An unnamed German man was brought in for questioning after the weekend incident, which prompted authorities to issue the following directive:

“To ensure the respect for the rights of people and to maintain security, safety and public order, the Phnom Penh municipality decides to ban camera-equipped drones from flying airspace from now on.”

The Phnom Penh Post reported Monday that City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said Queen Mother Norodom Monineath was shocked by the incident.

“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.”

Camera-equipped drones have become popular in recent years among journalists, documentary makers and videographers, and can be flown in many Southeast Asian nations without a permit. Recent incidents, however, have prompted calls for crackdowns on their use in some nations.

In December, xinhuanet.com reported that a drone exploded over  the disputed Preah Vihear temple on the Thailand-Cambodia border, causing panic among troops stationed in the area. The report added that this “was the fifth time a drone had exploded in the area in recent years”.

Thailand’s junta government is currently drawing up new regulations to control the use of drones, ThaiPBS reported last month, although it is not clear whether this is a direct result of December’s incident.

According to the ThaiPBS report: “Significantly, personal drone installed with surveillance camera is prohibited to be airborne. However, it allows drones with cameras only for businesses that require photography, such as for film making and for news media use.”

Drones have been used to capture dramatic footage of major news events in recent years, such as this video from democracy protests in Hong Kong last year: