Draft bill gives the government power to control your drone

Proposed legislation would give the government sweeping powers in designated areas.

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© 2011 Dorann Weber
© 2011 Dorann Weber

Drones have been the focus of many security initiatives, like the "sky fence" in the Channel Islands that jams pilot signals to stop drones from bringing contraband into the prison. Remotely piloted aircraft can also be a force for good, like in Africa where drones are being used to stop poaching. In the US, you may not have to register your personal drones with the FAA anymore, but you might not want to fly them where they're not allowed. New draft legislation from the Trump administration would authorize the government to track, take control of, and destroy drones that the government thinks pose a threat to specially designated areas. In addition, courts would be unable to hear lawsuits arising from such activity.

The 10-page document with proposed legislation obtained by The New York Times was reportedly circulated through various congressional committees this week. The administration also put together a classified briefing on the topic for congressional staff members, according to an aide. The draft bill is part of the National Defense Authorization Act and contains some sweeping language around what the government could do in these specially designated areas. The bill would allow the government to "detect, identify, monitor or track, without prior consent, an unmanned aircraft," or system. It also includes language allowing officials to "redirect, disable, disrupt control of, exercise control of, seize, or confiscate" the aircraft as well as any cargo attached. The proposed legislation would also give the government the power to "use reasonable force to disable, disrupt, damage or destroy" a drone or it's cargo, as well as to conduct research on any equipment to figure out ways to do all of the above.

As most drone incidents happen in prohibited airspace by drone pilots who don't abide by the FAA rules, such legislation isn't too surprising. The currently proposed regulations would give the federal government much more leeway in dealing with remotely piloted drones when and if they find their way into protected air space.

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