A newly proposed bill has begun making its rounds through Washington DC that would give the federal government authority to track, infiltrate, and outright destroy drones if such action is warranted. The new proposal would provide the federal government with more power than the ability to remotely identify personal drones. Additionally, it would enable governmental officials like law enforcement to gain control, confiscate, or destroy a drone without prior consent to determine whether the unmanned aircraft truly poses as a security threat—namely in areas that receive special protection like prisons, federal buildings, and trading ports.
In these types of scenarios, the drone’s SD card or other memory storage content could be searched without a warrant, which would give drones less privacy protection than cellphones. Despite the bill saying the government must respect privacy, civil rights, and liberties, it’s unclear whether a privacy complaint that might arise from these scenarios could be disputed in court. Having said that, the bill does say no court would have jurisdiction to hear any case or claim that arise from these new powers to track, hack, or confiscate a drone granted in the new proposal.
While the bill has already begun to be viewed by congressmen and their aides, cordial meetings regarding the proposal’s contents have taken place between presidential administration officials and congressional staff. This new drone bill has surfaced just days after a recent ruling in federal court that denied the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authority to mandate non-commercial drone operators to register their unmanned aircraft. So if you fly drones strictly as a hobby, you no longer have to register your aircraft on the FAA database anymore.
Law enforcement entities are concerned over how difficult it has been to keep track of drones over the past couple of months. They argue that an aircraft registration would be a likely necessity in order to identify anyone illegally or recklessly operating drones and determine whether or not one of these unmanned crafts should be intercepted or tracked. This prompted the FAA to form a task force that determines how the federal government and police could remotely identify drones.
One of the biggest discrepancies these scenarios present is how difficult it is to identify a drone operator if they’re flying their craft over a prison, crowd of people, or private property, even if the pilot is within the line of sight. By remotely identifying drone owners, law enforcement officers could more ably enforce drone laws and provide more accountability when making these determinations.
It remains to be seen when (or whether) this bill will be brought to the floor and voted upon, and so far there haven’t been any early indications as to what degree of support (or opposition) this proposition has gained in the bill’s early stages.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)