The Trump administration wants federal agencies to be able to track, hack, or even destroy drones that pose a threat to law enforcement and public safety operations, The New York Times reports.
A proposed law, if passed by Congress, would let the government take down unmanned aircraft posing a danger to firefighting and search-and-rescue missions, prison operations, or “authorized protection of a person.” The government will be required to respect “privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties” when exercising that power, the draft bill says. But records of anti-drone actions would be exempt from public disclosure under freedom of information laws, and people’s right to sue over damaged and seized drones would be limited, according to the text of the proposal published by the Times. The administration, which would not comment on the proposal, scheduled a classified briefing on Wednesday for congressional staff members to discuss the issue.
The proposed rules come after repeated reports of drones behaving badly at locations like airports and sporting events, and after a drunk federal employee crashed his drone on White House grounds. ISIS has also been using civilian drones as weapons in Syria and Iraq, and there’s no reason to think terrorists wouldn’t try similar things in the U.S. (Given those concerns, last month the Pentagon restricted civilian drone flights over military bases.) The new White House proposal could also address the existing upheaval around who, if anyone, regulates hobbyist drones, and would likely be a boon to the growing industry dedicated to hacking drones out of the sky.
[Photo: DroneDefender Battelle]