Grounded: Swedish court issues drone ban


posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 5:00 AM EST


A Swedish administrative court has dismissed an appeal by a company operating drones for photography purposes, seeking to obtain a permit to shoot images of buildings and places from the air. The verdict is the result of a series of appeals: The permit was initially denied at the County level, a subsequent appeal was dismissed, and the ruling on October 21 by the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden  has essentially created a precedent which makes drone photography in public places legally impossible.

The company making the appeal, who had obtained the relevant permissions to fly the drone, supplied the characteristics of the drone it was seeking to operate: the drone would fly no greater than 150 meters from the operator, would make flights between 6 and 10 minutes, and the camera attached to the drone does not have a pixel density sufficient to identify people. However, In the court's ruling, it decided that the rights to privacy of the individuals in public spaces to supercede the rights of the drone operator to document the public places themselves. It's still possible to apply for a permit to use such devices, but the case certainly sets a precedent that the barrier to entry has been greatly elevated.

The case highlights the sharp divide between privacy and technology, as the drones are considered surveillance devices. Sweden has been paying attention to drones and has been quick to add regulation to their developing place in society: in October 2015 Sweden amended its list of no-fly zones for drones, adding Nuclear reactors to the list alongside hospitals and airports.

(Seen via