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Sweden Bans Flying Camera Drones in Public Places

Surveillance laws require permits

October 26, 2016

Sweden's Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that camera drones come under the country's camera surveillance laws and will now require drone owners to go through a permitting process with no guarantee their UAVs will get off the ground. Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to weigh if the camera drone's usage overrides the public's right to privacy.

The ruling targets recreational and commercial users alike, and makes zero exceptions for journalists. Sweden's leading drone company, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), said up to 3,000 people may lose their jobs as a result of the court's decision.

The court's decision does not apply to cameras mounted in cars or on bicycles because they are operated in the owner's immediate vicinity.

The ruling affects Sweden's growing drone industry where over 20,000 drones were sold in 2014. Individuals and corporations seeking to use drone cameras must go through the same process as someone wishing to set up a surveillance camera in a public location. County administrators will then decide whether use of the “surveillance camera” provides a legitimate benefit that outweighs public privacy and, if not, the request to fly will be shot down.

A similar drone ban in California was nixed by Governor Jerry Brown.

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