Senate Passes Bill Allowing Authorities to Shoot Down Private Drones

first_img Climate Activists Use Drones to Shut Down Heathrow Airport Next MonthUPS Wants to Bring Drone Deliveries to U.S. Hospitals Stay on target The U.S. government will soon have the authority to shoot down private drones considered a threat.Following a House vote in April, the Senate this week passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which renews funding for the Federal Aviation Administration until 2023.It also aims to modernize aviation rules by making commercial flights more comfortable for disabled passengers and acting against privately owned drones.Specifically, section 1602—Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft—authorizes the detection, identification, monitoring, tracking, and takeover of drones “without prior consent, including by means of intercept.”Officials are empowered to seize and control unmanned aircraft using “reasonable force, if necessary, to disable, damage, or destroy” the device.Such freedom, civil rights groups argue, can easily be abused by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security—essentially turning the skies into the Wild West.Unmanned aerial vehicles have gained popularity among hobbyist pilots, film directors, explorers, and journalists. Heck, Dolce & Gabbana even replaced its human models with drones during a February fashion show.But the devices are also seen as a threat—crashing onto the White House grounds and smuggling smartphones through China.The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have denounced the bill.“These provisions give the government virtually carte blanche to surveil, seize, or even shoot a drone out of the sky—whether owned by journalists or commercial entities—with no oversight or due process,” an ACLU spokesperson told TechCrunch. “They grant new powers to … spy on Americans without a warrant.”“Flying of drones can raise security and privacy concerns, and there may be situations where government action is needed to mitigate these threats,” the group wrote in a recent blog post. “But this bill is the wrong approach.”Other critics include the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which said the legislation “ignores pressing concerns about the privacy impact of drones” and lacks “baseline privacy safeguards.”The bill is now on its way to the president’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law, according to TechCrunch.The 2018 Drone Awards photo contest proves the power of unmanned aerial vehicles. This summer, scientists unveiled a modern, intuitive way to pilot UAVs—using your torso. Stay up to date on all things drones here.last_img read more