President Trump’s administration is asking Congress to grant the federal government power to track, hack and destroy any type of drone that is flying over domestic soil. The draft legislation includes new exception to laws governing surveillance, computer privacy and aircraft protection. This draft legislation stems from the government’s growing concern for the widespread use of drones after several drones have flown over sporting events in restricted airspace and even crashed into the White House lawn. The potential for terrorists to use drones to carry bombs or other weapons in secure areas is perhaps the biggest concern. The draft legislation would authorize the government to summarily track, seize control and use force to destroy any drone that it determines could pose a security threat to an area or airspace designation with special protections (e.g., critical infrastructure, political conventions, etc.). Of course, the government would have to ‘respect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties’ according to the draft legislation, but the judicial system would have no jurisdiction to enforce any alleged violations.
This draft legislation is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which has not yet been publicly disclosed, but is being drafted by the armed services committees. The summary of the draft legislation states that it would enable the government to develop and use countermeasures that can address unique public safety and homeland security threats posed by drones. The draft legislation can be found here.