UK Law Makers Want To Make It Illegal To Own A Drone Without Their Permission

Has privacy abuse and the threat of terror caused an early end to the phenomenon of drones?

Photo: Frederic Legrand – COMEO /

Drones are becoming a big thing in the world of action sports. They give anybody with the budged for one the ability to achieve footage that, previously, was only available to folk with the disposable cash to cough up for helicopter hire.

At the current rate of growth, surely it won’t be long before drones are seen as essential a bit of kit in the world of boards and bikes as GoPro’s are. But now, UK law makers are asking the EU to make licensing all drones mandatory.

The House of Lords EU Committee have been looking into the use of drones, and what rules exist to ensure that unmanned aircraft are used safely. It concluded that a database of all drone owners is required, making individuals responsible for anything done with their drone.


The concern has been created by the possibility of drones being used to do all manner of nefarious acts, from people snooping on their neighbours topless sunbathing sessions, to flying contraband into prisons, and even using the unmanned devices to carry explosives or chemicals that could be used in terrorist attacks.

All of these seem like legitimate concerns, and ones that any law abiding citizen would have no problem supporting. However, concerns have been raised about the mandatory licensing of drones.

“drone flights must be traceable through an online database”

Experts have warned that over-regulating the fledgling industry could suffocate it, risking what some estimate to be 150,000 drone-related jobs that will be created in the next 35 years.

Another, arguably more obvious issue, is that licensing only regulates people that partake in the scheme. Anybody that’s willing to strap an explosive onto a drone and detonate it in a bid to hurt and kill people probably wont feel the moral tug to licence their drone. After all, firearms in the UK are meant to be licensed but that doesn’t stop criminals shooting people with unlicensed guns.

Baroness O’Cathain, who chaired the committee, suggested that the balance of contrasting interests, including public confidence in the industry, had been factored into the debate.

We have a huge opportunity to make Europe a world leader in drone technology, but there’s also a risk.

It would just take one disastrous accident to destroy public confidence and set the whole industry back. So, we need to find ways to manage and keep track of drone traffic.

That is why a key recommendation is that drone flights must be traceable, effectively through an online database, which the general public could access via an app.


So, if you had designs on getting a drone in time for your summer riding, or were already drafting a letter to Santa in the hope that next Christmas in a drone-packed one, you might need to rethink.

This licensing and regulation rarely comes without an additional cost, which will have to be factored in when forking out for you new flying friend. However, if you become the only person in your crew with a legal drone, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be the first person invited on any trip.

As with all things legal, the wheels will no doubt turn very slowly, so we don’t expect to see licensing come into affect over night. However, when it does, we’ll see you down the post office, asking for a A416-c Drone Licensing form.

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