U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seeking New Anti-Drone Legislation in National Security Effort

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In a renewed effort to clamp down on potentially threatening drone use, the United States Department of Homeland Security today will be urging Congress to approve new anti-drone legislation. Specifically, the proposed legislation would give the U.S. federal government new powers "to disable or destroy" any drone perceived to be "threatening" (via Reuters).

The DHS deputy general counsel Hayley Chang and undersecretary for intelligence and analysis David Glawe are set to speak on behalf of the department in an effort to seek "new authority" on the drone issue. Specifically, the DHS is looking at national security threats that can and have emerged from drone flights, as well as the use of drones by terrorist groups.


According to the prepared testimony seen by Reuters, the officials argue that drone terrorism use is a "looming threat" that the U.S. is "currently unprepared to confront" because of "outdated legal restrictions." Senate homeland security committee chairman Ron Johnson further urged action for new legislation:
"The federal government does not have the legal authorities it needs to protect the American public from these kinds of threats. The threats posed by malicious drones are too great to ignore," Johnson said.

"It is not enough to simply tell operators of unmanned aircraft not to fly in certain areas; we must give federal law enforcement the authority to act if necessary."
According to Johnson, the number of drone flights over sensitive areas jumped from eight in 2013 to around 1,752 in 2016. In the testimony, the DHS cites numerous recent incidents involving potentially malicious drone use, like when a Coast Guard helicopter was forced to take evasive action when a drone flew nearby in California this past March, or when a small civilian drone hit an Army helicopter and damaged a rotor blade in New York City last year.

Many high-security locations have already banned drones, like U.S. military bases and some national landmarks, and the proposed legislation is said to expand to high-profile events like the Super Bowl and presidential inaugurations, as well as federal installations and "the protection of officials." If a drone is perceived to be threatening, government officials could "disrupt communications" of the drone, seize control of it, or "destroy" it completely if needed.

While the new legislation appears to be targeted mainly towards terrorism threats, the growing popularity of drone flights have affected many tech companies, including Apple. Last summer, multiple reports emerged about Apple's first efforts at stopping drone pilots from accessing the airspace above Apple Park in Cupertino, California. In April, drone videographer Duncan Sinfield put a potential expiration date on drone flights over the site by admitting it's "only a matter of time until the campus becomes shut-off to drones completely."

Apple is likely attempting to prevent prying eyes from gaining access to its new campus and employee work going on there, following revamped anti-leak measures that emerged in a leaked memo earlier in the year. Still, the company itself is interested in drone technology as it participates in a pilot program that allows it to operate drones in ways typically restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration, reportedly focused on improving Apple Maps in North Carolina.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seeking New Anti-Drone Legislation in National Security Effort
 

macduke

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Jun 27, 2007
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And I was hoping when I saw the headline that they would be recommending outlawing the use of drone technology by any government agency over US territory.

Of course I knew that was a pipe dream.
Nope! Gotta clear the way for government drones all over.

Seriously though, I can see this being good and bad. There are some legitimate uses for drone technology—especially in areas such as agriculture. We have researchers using them with sensors that can determine soil temperatures and moisture levels and identify problem areas that need attention to maximize drop yield. But I also worry about a future where drones are ubiquitous and buzzing around interrupting the peace and quiet on my property. And as cool as it would be to have Amazon instant deliveries via drone, I don’t think the convenience outweighs the cons regarding privacy and sound pollution.
 
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Zenithal

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Largest drone makers are the Chinese, IIRC. They'll just do whatever they did to wrangle a certain tangelo into okaying ZTE.
 
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Kabeyun

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Mar 27, 2004
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Maybe we can call this drone regulation instead of anti-drone legislation. Personally, I’m not anti-drone, but I am in favor of a sensible restrictions. I’m probably just making a semantic point, but sometimes the tenor of a debate is just as important as the substance, especially these days. “Anti-drone” sounds like branding.
 
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mudslag

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Oct 18, 2010
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This assumes that bullets will be used. I bet there are other technologies that would be used for drones.

Im sure there are a number of projects in the works to stop drones but any projectile capable of shooting down a moving drone a 1000+ feet in the air or so can cause equal harm to someone hit by it on it's way down. The act of shooting it down alone won't be an easy feat for most anyway. My feeling is the ones to have the most potential to do harm in the first place will be the smaller faster ones making the job of stopping them even harder. Then again peeping tom drones are prob going to be a large portion of the issues that arise.
 
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vertical smile

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Maybe we can call this drone regulation instead of anti-drone legislation. Personally, I’m not anti-drone, but I am in favor of a sensible restrictions. I’m probably just making a semantic point, but sometimes the tenor of a debate is just as important as the substance, especially these days. “Anti-drone” sounds like branding.
I agree with this. The optics of "anti-drone" sounds like the government is trying to ban drones.

With drones becoming more popular with both commercial and private use, the current laws might be lacking, especially when it comes to private property and safety in general.

I remember a story a few years ago about a farmer that started shooting Amazon drones that kept buzzing his livestock. I can't remember if he was charged with a crime.
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but any projectile capable of shooting down a moving drone a 1000+ feet in the air or so can cause equal harm to someone hit by it on it's way down.
You are probably correct, but again, I don't think bullets or projectiles will be used to:
"disrupt communications" of the drone, seize control of it, or "destroy" it completely
I guess if the drone falls out of the sky, then it might hit someone on the way down.
 
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trusso

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Oct 4, 2003
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:rolleyes: Ah, good ole' Ben:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

&

"[...] for there is much truth in the Italian saying, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you."

 
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IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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This article is total garbage, even by MR's pretty low standards. The utterly lame effort to connect it to Apple is completely without basis. Nothing being proposed would have any impact on how, when or whether UAVs can be flown over Apple Park. None. Zero. That is already fully covered by the existing FAA regs, a subject that has been discussed at great length here before.
 
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MDF314159265

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There are at least two companies that I’m aware of who offer “non-lethal” methods of disabiling drones. Both use some kinds of radio wave tech.
But, yeah, if they give themselves this authority, there’s no telling what the bounds will be and we essentially give up the liberty to fly freely. And that stinks.
 
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Mousse

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This assumes that bullets will be used. I bet there are other technologies that would be used for drones.
Lasers.:cool: They already have a machine that shoots down mosquitoes using a laser. I imagine they could scale up such a device with a more powerful laser to shoot down pesky drones.
Edit: Oh snap. Raytheon already did.

I read some places using raptors to attack drones violating their air space. A golden eagle can easily take down most consumer drones.
 
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tugger

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Apr 14, 2005
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:rolleyes: Ah, good ole' Ben:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

&

"[...] for there is much truth in the Italian saying, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you."
Of course, that depends on how you define "essential liberty." No freedom is completely unconditional, including speech, religion and the pursuit of happiness.

Say you or people you care about are on a plane in final approach or initial climb and some idiot decides for whatever reason to place their drone unsafely close to that aircraft. In this instance who should be responsible for establishing what is meant by "unsafe," the idiot? Or should no one bother defining it at all? And, more specifically to the point of this thread, in that same instance wouldn't you want someone to have the authority and capacity to actually intervene at that moment on your behalf? Or are you willing to possibly suffer a senseless death or sacrifice your loved ones just to uphold some random individual's personal definition of "liberty?"

Heck, why not just entirely shutter the FAA and eliminate all airspace classifications. Everyone would then have the "liberty" to travel in conditions that would more resemble a video game than a relatively safe and organized transportation system. This is the problem with many absolutist positions. They are fundamentally irrational and actually against self-interest. I believe Franklin would wisely concur.
 
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rjohnstone

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Dec 28, 2007
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But it’s already illegal to do so... the FAA issues TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) to events like this.
That's not what they're talking about.
DHS is looking for clarification via a law as to WHAT they can do once a drone goes into restricted airspace.
The FAA rules only allow them to fine the operator for a violation.

Right now they have no legal authority to physically take out a drone.

I have no issues with having that written into law as long as there are narrowly defined situations that would warrant taking action against a drone.
If it's just buzzing around and being a nuisance in restricted airspace, jam the thing or take control of it and force it to land.
If it appears to have any type of weapon or explosive attached to it, or is posing a physical danger threat (i.e., flying near other aircraft, or is large enough to cause harm to a person), they can destroy it.
 
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trusso

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Oct 4, 2003
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Say you or people you care about are on a plane in final approach or initial climb and some idiot decides for whatever reason to place their drone unsafely close to that aircraft. In this instance who should be responsible for establishing what is meant by "unsafe," the idiot? Or should no one bother defining it at all? And, more specifically to the point of this thread, in that same instance wouldn't you want someone to have the authority and capacity to actually intervene at that moment on your behalf? Or are you willing to possibly suffer a senseless death or sacrifice your loved ones just to uphold some random individual's personal definition of "liberty?"

Heck, why not just entirely shutter the FAA and eliminate all airspace classifications. Everyone would then have the "liberty" to travel in conditions that would more resemble a video game than a relatively safe and organized transportation system. This is the problem with many absolutist positions. They are fundamentally irrational and actually against self-interest. I believe Franklin would wisely concur.
You've obviously thought a lot about this, but I hope you weren't ascribing any of those "absolutist positions" to me. :rolleyes: I was merely posting some food for thought.

I have neither the stamina nor the desire to engage in such internet debates, or to defend positions which I never actually took. ;)
 
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