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Proposed legislation to give govt. the power to control your drone

Posted on June 02 2017

Hobby drone registration may be done for, but the government's quest to gain some semblance of control over the drone industry certainly isn't. A new proposed legislation gives the federal government the power to take over control or destroy your drone. 

"(a) AUTHORITY.—Notwithstanding any provision of title 18, United States Code, the  head of an Executive department or agency, while respecting privacy, civil rights, and civil  liberties, including with regard to the testing of any equipment and the interception or acquisition of communications, may take, and may authorize a covered person to take, the  actions described in subsection (b), to the extent otherwise in accordance with law. (b) ACTIONS DESCRIBED.—The actions described in this subsection are as follows:  (1) Detect, identify, monitor, or track, without prior consent, an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s attached system, payload, or cargo, to evaluate whether it poses a threat to the safety or security of a covered facility, location, or installation or a covered operation, including by means of  interception of or other access to wire, oral, electronic, or radio communications or signals transmitted to or by an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s attached system, payload, or cargo.
(2) Redirect, disable, disrupt control of, exercise control of, seize, or confiscate, without prior consent, an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s attached system, payload, or cargo that poses a threat to the safety or security of a covered facility, location, or installation or a covered  operation, including by intercepting, substituting, or disrupting wire, oral, electronic, or radio communications or signals transmitted to or by an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s attached system, payload, or cargo.
(3) Use reasonable force to disable, disrupt, damage, or destroy an unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s attached system, payload, or cargo that poses a threat to the safety or security of a covered facility, location, or installations or a covered operation. 
(4) Conduct research, testing, training on, and evaluation of any equipment, including any electronic equipment, to determine its capability and utility to enable any of the actions described in paragraphs (1) through (3). "

The above text was contained in the first two pages of the 10-page document, and it already looks pretty grim. Given the government and law enforcement's reputation for "shoot first, ask questions later," it is hard to believe that this will be used appropriately if passed into law. Mostly, it's difficult to believe because of section F, found on the fourth page: 
JURISDICTION.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no court shall have jurisdiction to hear any cause or claim, including for money damages, against a covered person arising from any authorized action described in subsection (b).

 So, basically, if this happens to your aircraft under false pretenses you have zero recourse to either retrieve your aircraft or be compensated for it.. If it's broken, why would you want it back? It is a matter of principle for some, but also remember in section b-2 it was stated that it can be taken control of and seized. In comes section C (it makes more sense in this order):

(c) FORFEITURE.—An unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aircraft, or unmanned aircraft’s attached system, payload, or cargo that is disabled, disrupted, seized, controlled, confiscated, damaged, or destroyed pursuant to an action described in subsection (b) is subject to forfeiture to the United States.

So, if they happen to take control of your aircraft and pilot it to a safe landing zone, you still forfeit your aircraft to the government and cannot take them to court to get it back. Keep in mind we haven't even gotten through half of this document yet. Oh wait, page 4 still has more!

(g) RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAWS.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to—  (1) restrict the authority of the United States Government, a member of the Armed Forces, or a Federal officer, employee, agent, or contractor from performing any action described in subsection (b) or (c) that is in accordance with law.

You can make your own inferences with that section. 

If you missed the link earlier, you can read the 10-page document right there. It also has a section-by-section analysis of the legislation, giving the bill maker's view on what this is will accomplish. The document is dated May 19, 2017 and hasn't been widely mentioned until over a week later. 

 

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