The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden has banned the use of camera-equipped drones without a permit, overturning a previous decision to not consider them surveillance equipment.
Aerial footage and photography professionals and enthusiasts have been dealt a heavy blow in Sweden. The Supreme Administrative Court has established that drones equipped with cameras are now to be categorised surveillance equipment, whose use require a special license. Although a court had previously ruled against such categorisation of drones in the past, this decision has now been overruled.
Users wishing to use camera drones in public spaces must now apply for a permit and pay a fee, just like with any other surveillance camera. Applying and paying does not, however, guarantee that the permit will be granted. Dashboard and helmet cameras are not affected by these restrictions, as they always remain within reach of the owner. In other words, the Swedish drone ban means you can put the new GoPro Hero5 on the Karma gimbal and you’re good to go. Mount THAT on the Karma Drone, however, and things quickly become illegal.
Unmanned Aerial Systems Sweden, an industry group, reports that around 5,000 jobs could be in danger due to the new restrictions.
Different countries have taken many different measures in response to the ever-increasing use of drones of both enthusiasts and professionals alike. For example, Dutch police were reported to have been training eagles to pick flying drones out of the sky around sensitive areas such as airports. In the US, the FAA recently released new regulations for drone operators (see our article here), and in Europe there still isn’t an overarching set of rules, as they vary greatly from country to country. But Sweden’s example sets a precedent with a particularly constraining set of rules.
What do you think? Is Sweden’s drone ban well founded? Will other countries follow suit? Are you a drone operator in Sweden directly affected by the drone ban? Let us know in the comments below.