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'It’s OK to shoot down drones' say Swiss legal experts

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'It’s OK to shoot down drones' say Swiss legal experts
File photo: Andrew Turner
11:05 CEST+02:00
If a drone is invading your personal privacy you are entitled to shoot it down and aren’t liable for damages, according to new findings by Swiss lawyers.

Drones are increasingly popular with private individuals in Switzerland for recreational use and to take aerial videos.

But the remote-controlled craft can also be used by for spying on individuals or taking unauthorized photos – for example of people sunbathing on their balcony.

Until now legal opinion has held that victims of drone surveillance cannot defend themselves.

But Basel lawyers Jascha Schneider-Marfels and Sebastian Kaufmann say that according to their interpretation of the law, people who are being spied upon by drones are justified in shooting them down, 20 Minuten reported. 

“A drone pilot who goes against the law by invading people’s personal privacy can expect that the person affected will defend themselves – whether with a high pressure water jet or a net gun,” Schneider-Marfels told the paper.

If a private detective uses a drone to spy on an adulterous couple or a jilted lover takes topless photos of his ex on her balcony this constitutes an attack on the personal sphere in which case self-defence is justified, the lawyer said.

There would be no liability for damage caused to the drone.

“Personal rights outweigh property protection rights in such cases,” Schneider-Marfels said.

But a drone must not be brought down where injury could be inflicted to people in the area, he said. 

In February a company in the south-eastern canton of Graubünden unveiled a net gun designed to bring down small drones. 

The compact defensive weapon which resembles a pistol fitted with a large silencer has a guaranteed range of up to 30 meters and operates by “shooting” nets that entrap drones, bringing them to the ground.

Also in February, police in Geneva said they were training two eagles to take down rogue drones.

The plan is for the eagles to be fully operational by the end of the year.

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