Lachlan Urquhart provides an overview of drone regulation in the U.K., writing, in part:
More broadly, a number of UK laws could become relevant when considering regulation of surveillance drones, although the scope of application is not always clear. For example, covert use in police investigations would require compliance with the rules on directed and intrusive surveillance in Part II of theRegulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). Section 26(5) of RIPA determines if surveillance is deemed intrusive, and states surveillance which… ‘is carried out by means of a surveillance device in relation to anything taking place on any residential premises or in any private vehicle but… is carried out without that device being present on the premises or in the vehicle, is not intrusive, unless the device is such that it consistently provides information of the same quality and detail as might be expected to be obtained from a device actually present on the premises or in the vehicle’ (emphases added). This subjective dependency on consistency, quality and detail of drone obtained images could introduce uncertainty into classifying the nature of surveillance, and therefore the application of RIPA, Part II.
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via Lilian Edwards