Bill allowing government to destroy private drones gains Senate approval

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,530   +122
Staff member

The US government will soon have the legal right to take action against private drones it believes pose a “credible threat” to the “safety or security of a covered facility or asset.”

The authority is granted as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act that was recently approved by the Senate. The bill is headed to President Trump’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law.

If passed, authorities would be allowed – without prior authorization – to “disrupt control” of a drone by means of intercepting it, interfering with its operation, seizing control of it, confiscating it using reasonable force or to “disable, damage or destroy” it.

Unsurprisingly, both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have opposed the bill.

In a statement issued to TechCrunch, an ACLU spokesperson said the provisions give the government virtually carte blanche to surveil, seize or even shoot a drone out of the sky with no oversight or due process. “They grant new powers to the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to spy on Americans without a warrant,” the spokesperson said.

The EFF’s stance is virtually identical, telling TechCrunch, “If lawmakers want to give the government the power to hack or destroy private drones, then Congress and the public should have the opportunity to debate how best to provide adequate oversight and limit those powers to protect our right to use drones for journalism, activism, and recreation.”

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Evernessince

Posts: 5,342   +5,829
Wouldn't it be a better idea to establish no fly zones for drones? That should include any public building like libraries, any government building, and within x amount of feet of any private residence. All dones should be wireless query-able and able to provide registered user information.
 
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GeforcerFX

Posts: 956   +442
Wouldn't it be a better idea to establish no fly zones for drones? That should include any public building like libraries, any government building, and within x amount of feet of any private residence. All dones should be wireless query-able and able to provide registered user information.
Most federal areas are already no fly zones, doesn't mean the drone operator is following those rules though. And good luck getting drones registered to anyone. You can get a GPS programmable drone for $100, if they were $2000-4000 luxury gadgets like back in the day registration would have been doable but will the do it your self approach and the Chinese cheapos not gonna happen. To me it all boils down to common sense, if your not above your land or land you have the explicit permission of the land owner to be flying there then don't fly. Public space and RC vehicles have never been a good combinations, and aerial RC in dense urban areas is just downright stupid.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,187   +3,373
I'm cool with this as long as I can shoot down trespassing drones as well. If its over my property and beneath the FAA safe flying levels its getting lasered to the tune of 500W. So long GoPro, and maybe the drone itself :)
 
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senketsu

I surprisingly have no problem with this. There is simply no time to get a warrant when one of these things is already in the air.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,363   +3,444
I surprisingly have no problem with this. There is simply no time to get a warrant when one of these things is already in the air.
As I see it, if the drone presents an imminent, there is no time to get a warrant - such as in the case that a drone is flying too close to an airplane.

And flying over a sensitive government installation could also be considered a threat. One might never know if a foreign agent is flying it for hostile reasons.

However, if a drone is in non-restricted airspace and not posing an imminent threat, I would not agree with shooting it down.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,475   +5,852
As long as the drones are not shot down from my own property. Or at least I'm given the opportunity to comply with any regulations that may not be plainly visible. I will never have any issues with this.
 
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senketsu

Maybe one can get a few bucks from the Feds to install some surface to air missiles in the backyard.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,187   +3,373
In all seriousness, people are already adding guns to drones and cameras are old hat. How long until the first drone-based mugging occurs? Perps will be more likely to fire on you if they know there's little chance of reprisal, just as it is with drones in the military. Governments and law enforcement need to get ahead of this nightmare.
 

JamesSWD

Posts: 331   +184
It has to be done. Consider the nightmare scenario of a drone loaded with explosives and used by terrorists at an NFL game or other mass gathering of people, like a carnival. Or worse, a swarm of such drones. Law enforcement has to have the authority to take them down, just like they have the authority to take down a person presenting a deadly threat to others.