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Senate Counter-Drone Bill Would Expand Federal Powers

Senate Counter-Drone Bill Would Expand Federal Powers


By    |   Tuesday, 15 May 2018 12:54 PM

A U.S. Senate counter-drone bill introduced Monday would give the departments of Homeland Security and Justice new powers to act against drones deemed a threat and would allow governors and state attorneys general to request federal counter-drone support at large local gatherings, The Washington Post reported.

The newspaper reported that federal law enforcement, officials of major sports leagues, and others have been frustrated by current restrictions prohibiting intercepting communications or "sabotaging" aircraft as drone flyovers have increased in recent years.

The Post said the Trump administration supported a project last week that would promote the use of drones for things such as monitoring crops and delivering packages, and emergency defibrillators.

"Developing (unmanned aerial systems) and counter-UAS technologies is necessary for us to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into our national airspace," North Dakota U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said about the bill in a statement Tuesday.

"This legislation provides the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice with the tools they need to protect against UAS threats to our national security, which will help to ensure the safe use of legitimate UAS so this industry can continue to grow and develop," he continued.

According to Hoeven's statement, the bill also gives Homeland Security the right to evaluate emerging drone threats and to research and test technology to address these risks.

"The potential for the illicit use of drones presents border security officials with additional challenges as they work to protect our borders and prevent narcotics trafficking," fellow North Dakota U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, another co-sponsor, said in a separate statement.

"North Dakota remains a leader in UAS innovation, integration and, research, and it’s absolutely critical that we leverage our strengths in Grand Forks and across the state to both promote safe UAS development and protect against its misuse," she added.

The Post reported that the Trump administration offered a far-reaching counter-drone proposal that would have given new powers to numerous federal agencies, but it was rejected over bipartisan concerns that it was too broad.

The newspaper said some experts outside of government said they worry about aviation safety, civil liberties, and other concerns if counter-drone powers are increased.

Laura K. Donohue, director of the Center on National Security and the Law at Georgetown University Law Center, complained that environmentalists legally gathering information about a chemical facility might be thwarted under the proposals, the Post reported.

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A counter-drone bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would give the departments of Homeland Security and Justice new powers to act against drones deemed threatening.
senate, counter, drone, bill
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 12:54 PM
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