Culture

Peeping drone captures woman sunbathing topless

Australian real estate ad features aerial shots taken by drone, which reportedly show a woman sunbathing in her own yard.

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An advertising board, featuring a topless sunbather photographed by a drone, being removed in Australia Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

This is a sentence I didn't think I'd write too often: Maybe Kanye West was right.

A few months ago, the new Steve Jobs expressed his fears that drones were a plague that could even endanger lives.

Now an Australian woman from Mount Martha, Victoria, is complaining that a drone captured her sunbathing topless and the resulting photograph appeared in an ad for a real estate company. That's fairly life-threatening.

As the Herald Sun unveils it, Mandy Lingard was sunbathing in her own back garden. She was wearing just a g-string. What's it to you? However, what it was to a real estate company was an image that ended up being in one of its ads.

Lingard's modesty was relatively preserved because she was lying face down. She said she had heard a buzzing noise that she thought was "a kid's toy," according to the Herald Sun.

Instead, it was a local real estate company called Eview. It had sent a drone up above to capture an aerial photograph of a property next door to Lingard's house, said the Herald Sun. Then it had plastered the image in various ads.

Lingard told the Herald Sun: "It's in the real estate magazine, it's on the Internet and on the [advertising] board and I'm really embarrassed."

Her son saw it and was, she said, embarrassed too. Then there were all the comments from friends. Sometimes, it's OK to be the butt of jokes. But not when you're only wearing a g-string.

As befits a man of tomorrow, Steve Walsh of Eview told the Herald Sun that he was only doing what Google had done a thousand times before. No, not photographing a topless Lingard, but using drones for "elevated shots."

Improbably, he claimed that he hadn't been aware there was a topless, sunbathing woman in the photograph at all.

Jayde Vincent, a 9News reporter in Melbourne, tweeted a picture of the offending advertising board being taken down, which Walsh had promised.

Eview did not immediately respond CNET's request for comment.

Australia has become increasingly sensitive about drones and privacy. In July, a parliamentary committee warned that current privacy law doesn't protect people from peeping drones. In September, the Australian Law Reform Commission proposed new laws, including protection for private citizens against their private space being invaded.

These moves came after a triathlete in Western Australia was hospitalized after being hit by a drone while competing. Yes, the drone was filming.

The most difficult part of all this is that it's just the beginning. Soon, we won't know whether the drones buzzing in our airspace will be delivering doughnuts or trying to photograph our buns.

Of course, if this had happened in America, Lingard might have taken the same, very American action of a man in New Jersey. Disturbed by a drone flying over his house, he allegedly shot it down.