Lawmakers Seek to Balance Security and Civil Liberties

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced a bill on Tuesday that would extend the federal government's authority to counter threats posed by drones while also safeguarding the rights of responsible drone users. The legislation, reportedly sponsored by Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, seeks to renew the (DHS) and the 's (DOJ) counter-drone powers, which are set to expire in September.

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), was also introduced as an amendment to the fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act. The original counter-drone authority, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act, was signed into law in 2018, granting DHS and DOJ the ability to seize, control, or destroy threatening drones.

Enhancing Coordination and Protecting Privacy

Under the proposed legislation, DHS and DOJ's counter-drone authorities would be extended through October 1, 2028. The bill also aims to improve coordination between the two departments, the , and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA would be granted new counter-drone authority and required to develop counter-drone plans for U.S. airports.

To protect privacy and civil liberties, the bill seeks to limit the amount of data collected by government agencies during counter-drone activities. Intercepted communications to or from drones would be used only when necessary, and collected records would be disposed of immediately unless needed for investigations.

Balancing Security and Freedom

Rep. Green emphasized the importance of the legislation in ensuring that DHS and DOJ have the appropriate authorities to swiftly detect, track, and mitigate hostile drone use while also protecting the privacy and freedom of responsible drone users. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have previously attempted to pass longer-term renewals of the departments' counter-drone authorities, with short-term extensions being included in recent funding agreements.

FBI Director Chris Wray had previously warned that without the counter-drone authority, no public safety agency in the country would be able to provide counter-drone security at mass events. The proposed bill aims to address this concern while striking a balance between security and civil liberties.

DroneXL's Take

The bipartisan effort to extend federal counter-drone authority is a step in the right direction, as it recognizes the growing importance of drones in various sectors while also addressing the potential security risks they may pose. By striking a balance between security and civil liberties, the proposed legislation aims to create a framework that allows for the responsible use of drones while also protecting the public from potential threats.

As continues to advance and become more accessible, it is crucial for lawmakers to adapt and create policies that foster innovation while ensuring public safety. The collaboration between various government agencies, as outlined in the bill, is essential for developing a comprehensive and effective counter-drone strategy.

While the proposed legislation is a positive development, it is important to continue the dialogue between lawmakers, industry stakeholders, and drone enthusiasts to ensure that any future regulations strike the right balance between security and freedom. By working together, we can create a safe and thriving environment for the to grow and contribute to various sectors of the economy.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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