Article Sweden: District Court Declares Drone Use Does Not Constitute Camera Surveillance

(May 1, 2015) On April 13, 2015, the Administrative District Court of Malmö announced that using a drone to take pictures of an outdoor public garden is not camera surveillance that requires a prior permit. (Jaqueline Balcer Bednarska, Foto med drönare är inte kameraövervakning – domstol upphäver länsstyrelsens beslut, DAGENS JURIDIK (Apr. 14, 2015).)

The decision was rendered on an appeal of a County Administrative Board decision that had denied a corporation the camera surveillance permit the Board considered to be a requirement for filming public gardens for commercial purposes. The Board had found that because the photography was of a public garden and citizens are free to visit the garden, the citizens’ interest of privacy outweighs the corporation’s interest in using the camera surveillance. (Id.)

The Camera Surveillance Act prohibits the placement of a surveillance camera in a public place in Sweden without a prior permit. (Kameraövervakningslag [Camera Surveillance Act], SVENSK FÖRFATTNINGSSAMLING 2013:460, art. 3 item 1, NOTISUM, emphasis by author.) To be granted a permit the user must have a legitimate purpose that outweighs the privacy interest. (Id. art. 9, ¶ 1.)

The Administrative District Court found that the intent of the user is immaterial, that is, usage can be deemed camera surveillance even if surveillance was not the intent. But the court decided that the use of a drone to photograph a public garden was not covered by the law. The court ruled that because the drone was not a permanent fixture, the law did not apply. The court found that the law presumed that there is some permanence to the use of the camera; cameras that are just briefly used are not covered. The court relied on legislative history, which, for instance, considered the use of cameras during protests to be permissible. The court noted that because drones only have a limited battery life and thus need to be taken down to replace the batteries, their use does not create a state of permanence. (Administrative District Court of Malmö, Case No. 1323-15 (Apr. 13, 2015), on file with author.)

The decision should not be seen as a blank check to use drones to take photographs in public places, however. The Chief Judge reportedly later emphasized that using drones for photographic purposes could still violate other laws, such as those on assault or sexual assault, under certain circumstances. (DAGENS JURIDIK, supra.)

 

About this Item

Title

  • Sweden: District Court Declares Drone Use Does Not Constitute Camera Surveillance

Online Format

  • web page

Rights & Access

Publications of the Library of Congress are works of the United States Government as defined in the United States Code 17 U.S.C. §105 and therefore are not subject to copyright and are free to use and reuse.  The Library of Congress has no objection to the international use and reuse of Library U.S. Government works on loc.gov. These works are also available for worldwide use and reuse under CC0 1.0 Universal. 

More about Copyright and other Restrictions.

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Credit Line: Law Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Sweden: District Court Declares Drone Use Does Not Constitute Camera Surveillance. 2015. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-05-01/sweden-district-court-declares-drone-use-does-not-constitute-camera-surveillance/.

APA citation style:

(2015) Sweden: District Court Declares Drone Use Does Not Constitute Camera Surveillance. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-05-01/sweden-district-court-declares-drone-use-does-not-constitute-camera-surveillance/.

MLA citation style:

Sweden: District Court Declares Drone Use Does Not Constitute Camera Surveillance. 2015. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2015-05-01/sweden-district-court-declares-drone-use-does-not-constitute-camera-surveillance/>.