In this #28 issue of “Lexing Insights,” the members of the network focus on “Drones”.

Legal framework for drones

Like the internet and GPS before them, drones have evolved beyond their military origin to become civilian and commercial tools that are gradually entering our daily lives. During the Covid-19 health crisis, drones were used by companies to deliver food products or medical equipment, or by the police to monitor compliance with lockdown measures.

Unsurprisingly, the use of these flying machine that integrate different kinds of sensor and that can be powerful tools to observe, store and analyze personal data raise numerous legal questions, already addressed by the Lexing network in a comparative study in 2016 and in a previous Lexing Insights (issue #10). While in Europe regulations imposing registration of drones and new obligations for their users came into force on 31 December 2020, other regions of the world are also working on developing or refining an appropriate legal framework.

The Lexing® network members provide a snapshot of the current state of play worldwide:

  • What are the different categories of drones?
  • What are the flight rules to be respected?
  • What measures have been taken to protect privacy?
  • How is the use of drones by the law enforcement for surveillance purposes regulated?
  • What about armed drones?
A world tour of the legal framework applicable to drones

First, our South African member looks at the relationship between the drone regulations and the Protection of Personal Information Act  (“POPIA”), which will come into full force on 1 July 2021.

Then, our members for France and Greece report on the use of drones by law enforcement agencies in their respective countries, with a focus on the impact of this use on privacy and on the lawfulness of armed drones.

Our Hungarian member presents the recent legislative changes in its country and the controversy they have sparked, particularly in view of their consequences for investigative journalism, while our Italian member gives an overview of the rules applicable in Italy to the various categories of drones.

Our tour finishes with our member for the United Kingdom  describing the tightening of regulations in the U.K. after drones were flown next to the Heathrow and Gatwick airports in 2018, and the recent approval of trials of BVLOS drone flights by sees.ai.

The following countries have contributed to this issue: France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, South Africa, United Kingdom.

Lexing International Newsletter “Lexing Insights”  No. 28 – May 20211