FAA Says It Can Shoot Down Drones Anytime, Anywhere

By admin | Regulation

Nov 18
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The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority said it had the right to shoot down drones anywhere, by adding a provision to the reauthorisation act.

The provision was added to the routine reauthorization act for the FAA, which is the watchdog that deals with America’s skies, and has invited the ire of civil liberties groups who are unhappy at the blanket nature of the shoot-down authorization, online media reports suggested.

The new provision aims at preventing emerging threats and deals with federal departments ability to “disable, disrupt, or seize control of” any drone that is thought to pose a “credible threat… to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.”

Critics have pointed out that the “wide range of departments” mentioned is the key issue since it means that it is not just the military that will be able to shoot down drones. Actions that can be taken on any un-authorised drone include using reasonable force, if necessary, to disable, damage, or destroy the unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft.

Drones can reach places that can be difficult to reach otherwise and can also pose threats of varying degrees. Hence, many aviation experts have welcomed the new guidelines but remain sceptical of the need for such stringent regulations.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is basically an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers.

Some critics point out that the FAA has been taking an aggressive approach to drones by introducing strict rules, such as a requirement to register them and pay a registration fee, rather than softer rules that it can then tighten up if necessary, media reports said.

There are basically no safeguards written into the law so pretty much anyone in the Justice Department, or Homeland Security, or Department of Transportation, or a whole slew of government departments can shoot down a drone, claim they felt it posed a risk, and get the full backing of the federal government, an online site said.

This could lead to all sort of violations, other critics added. While it is most likely that the law will only be used if drones fly into controlled airspace or high-security areas, it could also be used for other reasons with this provision. This could make it possible to shoot down media drones sent for journalistic reporting, film-making or aerial surveillance.

“If lawmakers want to give the government the power to hack or destroy private drones, then Congress and the public should have the opportunity to debate how best to provide adequate oversight and limit those powers to protect our right to use drones for journalism, activism, and recreation,”  Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said.

However since there has been no such talks it can be said that the provision would essentially mean that your drone can be shot down just about any time.

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