The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden just ruled that camera drones qualify as surveillance cameras and require a permit under Sweden's camera surveillance laws. The ruling requires owners to cough up a sizable fee in order to get their equipment off the ground, and paying to start the process is no guarantee a citizen will be granted the right to fly. County administrators will have to consider whether use of a "surveillance camera" overrides the public's right to privacy on a case-by-case basis.
Aerial photographers and recreational drone users may have to rely on alternative methods to get their footage. The justices said dash cams and cameras affixed to bicycle handlebars are not in violation of the public's right to privacy because the devices are within reaching distance of the people who operate them.
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.
Sweden is one of the first countries to ban camera drones. The US has its own set of regulations governing drone use, but they pale in comparison to Sweden's stringent blanket-ban on drones. An effort to ban drone use in California last year was shot down by Governor Jerry Brown.
First reported by PetaPixel, Swedish drone users are upset about the court's decision. Recreational drone users took to a DJI forum to voice their frustration. One user lamented Sweden's considerable step back in policy "when they otherwise seem to be a very progressive society." Another user concluded the justices "must have been drunk or something." In a query that perfectly sums up Swedish bewilderment about the new ban, one user wondered if Sweden was planning on banning "tall people" next.