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Swedish Administrative Court Bans Drones With Cameras (abc.net.au) 113

An anonymous reader writes: The ruling of the Swedish administrative courts forbids anyone to fly a drone equipped with a camera as long as its not "... to document crime or prevent accidents...". They also rule that there is no exception for the ban for commercial use or in journalistic purposes. According to the court the issue with the drones is that is not "controlled locally"

The ban could cause a great problems for the drone industry within Sweden and the UAS Sweden has taken a stand against the ruling because of how it "... strikes against an entire industry that employs thousands of employees."

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Swedish Administrative Court Bans Drones With Cameras

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    So it's illegal to fly a drone with a camera, unless you want to document a crime.. like flying a drone with a camera?

    Just make a lot of short youtube documentaries about gangs of criminals underground drone racing with illegal camera equipped drones!

    • Emerging market -- aerial photographers now hiring criminals to commit crimes during their shots.
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:22AM (#53139455) Homepage

      That could be an interesting legal paradox. Build two identical drones and have them take off at the exact same time filming each other, then send in the video as evidence of a crime. Because they were used to document a crime, both were legal; but then there was no crime being committed, so they weren't being used to document a crime, and were thus illegal... and thus both were documenting a crime, and thus legal...

      • Re:Easy Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:31AM (#53139511)
        In that case the nature of intent comes into play, and they very much would be considered criminal.
        • That's how the police think at least... they will take maximum advantage either by following the letter of the law (forcing people to unlock phones with a fingerprint is not self-incrimination), or by interpreting the spirit of the law (two drones filming each other violating the law does not make their actions lawful)
        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          And the intent would be to film the criminal activity, hence a fully legitimate use of the drones ;)

      • I like it. You would still have to apply for a permit to use the drone as a surveillance camera so that kind of defeats the philosophical argument here I'm afraid. So would be super legal for only $78 per camera and a few week of waiting time. What is interesting is that I think that they would not approve the application if you told them the camera was permanently attached to a drone instead of a wall. Which is the reason that the court classified it as a surveillance camera in the first place. Would be re
      • That it was used to document a crime doesn't make it legal. It is illegal without a permit. Surveillance just happens to be the thing they'll grant a permit for.

        So sadly no, we don't get a paradox...

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Why can't you apply for a permit for each drone before starting?

          • You can and then each is either illegal or legal depending on whether the permit is approved, again without a paradox.

            • by Rei ( 128717 )

              So you get a permit once, and then every flight of the drone is legal regardless of whether or not you're actually using the drone within the guidelines that the permit was approved for, is that what you're saying?

              • You would have to comply with whatever the conditions of the permit are. Otherwise you don't have a permit for what you are actually doing after all.

      • That could be an interesting legal paradox. Build two identical drones and have them take off at the exact same time filming each other, then send in the video as evidence of a crime. Because they were used to document a crime, both were legal; but then there was no crime being committed, so they weren't being used to document a crime, and were thus illegal... and thus both were documenting a crime, and thus legal...

        Yes, no, won't fly (pun intended). The law in question, the Swedish camera surveillance law, has a few well defined exceptions for surveillance to prevent crimes. They're too numerous to list, but it's basically banks, post offices, stores, parking garages and the like, and the camera in those cases (with the exception of parking garage funnily enough) have to be fixed and with a fixed lens (i.e. no zoom).

        You still have to report to relevant authorities that you have a camera, and you have to clearly mark i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:06AM (#53139307)

    In china.

  • nooooo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thebullshitpatrol ( 4673009 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:08AM (#53139327)
    Sweden now cut out of the loop on beautiful aerial videography. 50ft cranes are still a viable option for anyone with $20k to spend.
    • Swedish citizen bans overreaching government. Vows to ignore silly laws and go about life.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      It applies to drones, but a balloon on a string is not a drone.

      There will always be a way around rules like that.

      And considering that the cops here in Sweden are way too busy with other stuff this would be low on the list as long as it's not used to create child porn.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:11AM (#53139363) Journal
    ...they dont want YOU to see anything, even if it is just pixels on the ground, but theyre perfectly fine with storing all the data traffic of every citizen for 6 months. Yay for the double morals.
  • As long as drones with cameras are still allowed in Coventry, we can continue "monitoring" Lady Godiva.
  • I read through the verdict. The main point seem to be that the camera is considered attached to the drone and that you can see people in their natural public habitat. And that it is remote controlled from far away - compared to the millions of cellphone cameras that we use fingers to control. The fact that the person controlling the drone is required to be able to see it while piloting seem not to matter at all. As the pilot would have to have very long arms to convince the court that it is not recording us
    • I read it too, and the summary is wrong. It doesn't ban camera bearing drones, but requires that they have a permit when used in public places, which have a particular legal definition. I am not an expert on Swedish law (IANASL) but this is likely to include places like a park but may not necessarily include a mountain. It certainly won't include your back yard or an area for playing with drones, building surveys, etc. And it does allow locally permitted uses (checking in your reindeer herd or Amazon delive

      • Swedish video surveillance laws are extremely strict. I am not allowed to on my own property place a camera that monitors my lawn, because said lawn can be visited by the public. I can only, without a permit, monitor locked areas never available for the public. A shop owner is not allowed to put a camera that is only on when the shop is closed. In my home town, an unmanned gym that is open 24/7 has repeatedly been denied a permit and have opted to keep paying the fine for their cameras. Fines are incredibly
        • TFA said "landholders could operate drones of up to 25 kilograms on their properties without the need for approvals." Perhaps you could put one of those rubber band propeller blades on top of the camera looking at your lawn and tell them it's a drone that happens to be, at the present moment, parked.
    • The fact that the person controlling the drone is required to be able to see it while piloting seem not to matter at all.

      No, it doesn't matter at all, because the legal requirement does mean that people won't be doing it.

      Also, why not use criminal intent as a basis for determining criminal behavior instead of just forbidding the entire setup :/

      Yes, that's much more relevant.

  • Don't panic (Score:5, Funny)

    by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:35AM (#53139555)

    If you're flying a camera drone in Sweden, just tell them you're documenting the crime of flying a camera drone in Sweden...

    • A computer should then be used to determine whether you have committed a crime or not. Then afterwards it can work on the "Barber shaves all men who do not shave themselves. Who shaves the barber?" problem :)
    • I would more specifically say you saw a different drone flying, so launched a drone to document the crime.

      Oops, too bad it came up with no footage of said drone! Well at least you tried.

      It really opens up all kinds of fun possibilities, to get someone else to commit a crime so that you can fly a drone to record it... kids should have a lot of fun with this one! No-one said you couldn't profit off documenting crime... :-)

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:36AM (#53139567)

    Now available in my "NotExista' store page, I have large stickers featuring the following civic-minded messages:

    "Remember kids, look both ways before crossing the street, to prevent accidents!"

    and

    "Be on the lookout for police brutality! It's all our jobs to record police in order to prevent crime!" ...along with the FINEST of google-translated Swedish-language versions. Yours for only 50kr! Or get 2 for 80kr! Some shipping and taxes may apply.

    Transform your old-fashioned 'drone' into the latest in mobile crime-prevention and accident-prevention platforms today!

    Ryan Fenton

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... has taken a stand against the ruling because of how it "... strikes against an entire industry that employs thousands of employees."

    This argument could be applied to so many different illegal activities...

  • Why do we cover Swedish events with a link to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, who couldn't be any farther away if they tried?

    Additionally why are there 3 links in the summary to the same article. There's only 3 sentences, each one doesn't need a link.

    • As people in sweden speak swedish and Slashdot usually only link to english news sources.

      So swedens media articles about it are not linked too.

      As for the decision I think its good that there are laws stopping not needed public survelliance.

      • As people in sweden speak swedish and Slashdot usually only link to english news sources.

        Yep there's no closer country to Sweden than Australia which has English as a native language?

    • Sweden is Nirvana for millennials.
  • Strangest argument (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TimothyHollins ( 4720957 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @11:54AM (#53139739)

    "The ban could cause a great problems for the drone industry within Sweden and the UAS Sweden has taken a stand against the ruling because of how it "... strikes against an entire industry that employs thousands of employees."

    So, it shouldn't be illegal because it generates a lot of money? What about sex trafficking, cocaine smuggling, or ransomware? Is it fine to break the law if you get rich doing it?

    I for one would hope that the judicial branch does not set the bar by what makes the most money.

    • So it should be illegal because someone MIGHT use it to film someone without their consent? Great! Let's ban cameras and any phones with cameras next. Cuz ya know, those can be used to do the same thing and are way cheaper and quieter.

    • You honestly can't see the difference between campaigning against a law and just breaking the law?

      And yes usually government policy is supposed to be to the benefit of the people and so arguments that a policy is harmful to some group is perfectly reasonable.

      You would prefer the government just to make up policies and laws and if the people don't like it, tough?

    • There are actually three stances here, not the two you're implying.
      • Can't ban something because it generates a lot of money.
      • Ban something regardless of how much money it generates.
      • Some things that make a lot of money are worth banning, some things shouldn't be banned regardless of making a lot of money.

      As for the money-making activities you've cited, those are banned because their productivity generation is a net negative. The money the sex trafficker or cocaine dealer or ransomware author makes is le

    • Ah, but wait until there's a trade agreement where an "Investor - State Dispute Settlement" court gets to make these decisions. Then you only need for cocaine manufacturers to issue stock.
  • You know, I've been certain that these things would be illegal somehow. Of course it's illegal surveillance. It's not like taking photographs with your camera. It's like mounting your camera to a lamp post and leaving it there.

    As for the stupidest whine I've ever heard: "but it's a whole industry of employees" -- you jumped the gun in a very-fast moving industry that didn't read the existing laws. You're now upset that an established law that you could have read years ago exists? Congrats. Learn to re

    • The reaction to people mounting a camera to a lamp post and leaving it there is to ban doing that, take those cameras down, and fine the owners if you can find them. Not to ban cameras.

      Drones with cameras have many legitimate purposes that do not violate the privacy of anyone. The first reaction should be to ban unacceptable use of such drones, not to ban the drones themselves. Only if there is widespread abuse and no practical way to prevent it and/or punish the owners should you consider banning them
      • We've done exactly that. We've made it illegal to have cameras operating without an operator present to whom one could speak. That's the drone in the air problem -- you can't approach the operator.

        • Does that mean there is no legitimate (lawful) purpose of drones with cameras in Sweden?
          • That's not the discussion. If your legitimate purpose -- e.g. checking out your own roof to see if shingles need replacing -- has you accidentally recording your neighbour's roof, and his bathroom window, what's your neighbour to do? He can't approach you to tell you not to upload it to youtube -- because he doesn't know that it's you. That makes it surveillance without head-nod consent (which is a real thing in casual photography).

            You're creating a world where anyone can take your photograph, at any tim

      • No, the problem is claiming that somebody standing in the public square has any expectation of privacy.

    • by gTsiros ( 205624 )

      "You don't get to record my private property remotely."

      damn... and i just bought this telescope and a 20 MP DSLR to mount on it and was planning on shooting UHD videos of anything and everything visible from right behind my window, where nobody could ever find out about it... Guess my plans have been foiled.

      the law will certainly help you to not get your private property remotely recorded by a kid that flies his toy quad for his enjoyment. The "drone" he is flying has a camera, you say?! Unacceptable! So wh

      • Maybe where you live, but not where I live. Very rarely is anyone looking through my window. And I've news for you: it's been illegal to point a telescope into someone's window for quite some time.

        • by gTsiros ( 205624 )

          how, exactly, will you find that i have a telescope pointing wherever the fuck i want? the telescope is completely hidden from outside observation.

          • Enforcement is independent of legislation. But you'll upload it to youtube anyway.

            • by gTsiros ( 205624 )

              Yes, legislation is -sadly- unrelated to legislation and water is wet, we agree on that.

              Further on.

              Are we talking about:

              1. using a remote camera with live viewing but no recording (fpv),
              2. recording video or
              3. publicizing?

              Because no matter how much you legislate or (legislate and enforce), what i described in the previous circumstances is (and very likely will remain, even in the future) pretty much impossible to detect or enforce *with current technology*.

              don't know what you mean by "you'll upload it anywa

  • by JesseMcDonald ( 536341 ) on Monday October 24, 2016 @12:14PM (#53139931) Homepage

    The ruling of the Swedish administrative courts forbids anyone to fly a drone equipped with a camera as long as its not "... to document crime or prevent accidents...".

    The Swedish administrative courts have created a legal paradox. If it is a crime to fly a drone with a camera, then by doing so one is automatically documenting a crime... which apparently makes the drone legal, ergo no crime exists to be documented, ergo flying the camera-drone is illegal. The drone thus exists in a superposition of legal and illegal states, threatening to tear the entire Swedish legal system to pieces. (One can only hope.)

    • by Kkloe ( 2751395 )
      yeah and if you try to defend yourself with that "paradox" the court will laugh and sentence you guilty
    • RTFA.

      From the article: "Sweden places ban on drone filming without surveillance permit"

      The only exception is dashcams. That's confusing to me since dashcams have nothing to do with drones.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Swede here, and my father used to fly drones to take aerial photographs.

        In general: The reason to require a surveillance permit is to limit the amount of filming of places to which the pubic has access.

        You are allowed to film/photograph such spaces if you are actually holding the camera. However, you need to apply to "Länsstyrelsen" for a surveillance permit if you want to mount a camera to film an area that the public can access. So I am not allowed to mount a camera in my apartment that films my moto

        • Flying a drone is not considered as if you are holding the camera. If you could fly in such a way that you only film your property, it would be allowed.

          This is what doesn't make sense. You are allowed to photograph public areas, and not just your own property (as long as you don't use a drone). They're putting hobbyist drones in the same category as CCTV cameras and other devices which are left in place to record continuously. Most of the drones affected by this law are not the expensive, semi-autonomous sort which can fly on their own using GPS waypoints, and even those only fly for a short time before the batteries are depleted. You can't just set them u

  • In America we have a 2nd amendment right to bear arms. This solves the problem of nosey drones nicely. People could have a safe FPV drone hobby that was self-regulating if only Sweden armed their citizens (and had a manic gun culture).

    • The rights protected by the Second Amendment don't grant you protection from prosecution when you destroy someone else's property (with a gun, or a chainsaw, or fire, or your fists). It's a federal felony to shoot at an aircraft, and the FAA now considers any drone (or RC plane, etc) over 9 ounces to be an aircraft.

      And for what it's worth, the FPV hobby in the US is essentially now illegal. Operators cannot fly unless they are observing the aircraft with their own un-aided eyes at all times.
      • Responding to trespassing tends to grant a fair bit of leeway on property damage and personal injury.

        It's still not clear that the FAA is even allowed to consider a drone to be an aircraft, and therefor under their regulatory purview, as this contradicts other parts of the same regulation. AMA is playing it safe and telling all us hobby pilots to register our UAS, but the legality of what has happened is still contested. (perhaps mainly by armchair layers). I think without settling the matter in court and e

  • Anything that another person can see, or hear, or record, simply is not private. We have established a few exceptions such as talking to one's doctor, or minister. But what we have going on is a situation in which people are demanding the right to lie, to be secretive, to do wrong, or to be able to deny their own behavior. Frankly if you sun bathe, nude in your back yard an airplane can snap a photo easily these days. there is simply no real difference between a plane at 2,000 feet and a drone at 100 f
    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      You US point of view isn't shared internationally. Know your rights and don't be an ass assuming everyone follows the same laws:
      https://commons.wikimedia.org/... [wikimedia.org]

      The definition of private also varies widely depending on country (there are probably a few more measures now that drones exist and are cheap and ubiquitous).

      As for the rest of your panacea arguments, the sad fact is most laws are passed because people abuse them without it. Having separate bodies making vs. enforcing laws makes for an essential bar

      • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

        There is no US point of view. Consent is a state issue and the laws vary quite a bit from state to state.

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      Anything that another person can see, or hear, or record, simply is not private. We have established a few exceptions such as talking to one's doctor, or minister. But what we have going on is a situation in which people are demanding the right to lie, to be secretive, to do wrong, or to be able to deny their own behavior. Frankly if you sun bathe, nude in your back yard an airplane can snap a photo easily these days. there is simply no real difference between a plane at 2,000 feet and a drone at 100 feet. There is a reason that Trump could molest or that Cosby could drug and rape people. Imagine if voice recordings and hidden cams were totally legal in all situations. How much fraud on a used car lot could be prevented? And we don't even want to think about the number of cheating wives and husbands would be caught and exposed.
      If the TRUTH shall set us free we must do everything humanly possible to allow total scrutiny of every individual so that truth permeates every aspect of our lives . Imagine every word in a business being live and available for anyone in the world to watch and preserve. Maybe your talcum powder that just killed you would not have contained asbestos. And how low would your taxes be if all economics were wide open for all to inspect?
      The real issue is not about drones. It is about whether we like a world filled with lies and crimes or a world in which truth permeates every bit of everyone's lives.

      Let's see... If "the truth" would permeate all interactions, I suspect that authoritarian regimes would rule the world as they would be able to quash all opposition before they could get organized... I suspect that people trying to leave dominating relationships (assuming the actually abusive ones are caught by authorities), would have their efforts thwarted by their partners. The only reason you want to hide is from the person who has the power which could be the government but it could easily be your moth

      • by gTsiros ( 205624 )

        grandparent is not suggesting we live in a "zero privacy world"

        he is merely making an observation: in this day and age, unless you are inside your home with your blinds down, you are probably being recorded. whether you like it or accept it is irrelevant. Whether we have laws about it is also irrelevant. That is the reality we live in. As i wrote in another post, i may have a telescope with a super high resolution camera strapped to it, in my home, behind a hole in my windowblinds, taking shots of anything

  • Yes, and we all know how well it works when governments over-regulate rather than being smart about it. People will just ignore the law and continue to fly anyway.
  • Will the US play along with this and not expand the extrajudicial assassination by drone program to Sweden? There's a high likelihood the next US administration will continue the drone war (which the US would call "state-sponsored terrorism" if any other country were doing has been doing). Terror Tuesday [nytimes.com] is coming up fast but we all know murder-by-drone is lighthearted humor [wsws.org] except for its victims and anyone who thinks killing is wrong. Like Obama said [huffingtonpost.com], "Turns out I'm really good at killing people. Didn't k

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