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Cameras attached to drones fall foul of Sweden’s strict surveillance laws, the country’s highest court has ruled by slapping an outright ban on drone filming—unless the kit is used by a law enforcement agency or an expensive permit has been issued.The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden ruled that all drone cameras count as surveillance devices, and that they can now only be used to prevent crime or accidents.
In a linked ruling, it decided that car- or bike-mounted cameras are legally fine.
The difference? A camera mounted on a helmet or handlebars, or behind a windshield, goes where its owner goes, but as drones are remotely operated, this means they are capable of spying on things that are otherwise out of sight of their pilot, and are therefore illegal.
In its ruling, the court said “that the [drone] camera can be used for personal monitoring, although it is not the purpose.
The camera is therefore to be regarded as a surveillance camera.”
The move has upset Swedish drone users and the country’s growing drone market, which industry group UAS says employs thousands of people and is worth billions of krona.
It said: “UAS Sweden held a board meeting and has established a plan to try to force policymakers at all levels to realise how this bad ruling strikes against an entire industry that employs thousands of people and features companies with billions in turnover.”
The ruling will prevent drones being used in nature photography, racing, weddings, and journalism. Private operators who want to use cameras attached to drones will have to apply for a special filming permit from local government to prove that they’re monitoring their own property.
There is no law against Swedes taking pictures in public places.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK
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