Last week, federal officials testified at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing claiming that the statutes that constrict the government’s ability to counter reckless or malicious drone use, including the ability to test and research different methods of counter-UAS technology, are outdated. From the use of drones to deliver explosives by Islamic State and other international terrorist groups to drug traffickers in the United States, U.S. law seems to be falling behind, federal officials said. Undersecretary of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), David Glawe, said “This threat is real. We are witnessing a constant evolution in the danger posed by drones as the technology advances and becomes more available and affordable worldwide.” In response to much of this testimony, Chairman Ron Johnson said that he hopes to attach legislation to this year’s defense authorization bill to provide law enforcement agencies with the authority to defend against malicious drones in U.S. skies.
Under the proposed legislation, DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) would gain enforcement authorities against drone use that is deemed to be a threat against public safety or national security. Law enforcement agencies would be able to track or surveil drones in public areas, or even intercept, seize or destroy them if necessary.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes the bill citing its failure to protect “property, privacy and First Amendment rights.”
We will continue to monitor this legislation as it progresses.