Drone Groups Warn Counterdrone Act Could Have “Profound Repercussions” for Public Safety

In a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, major groups are sounding the alarm about the Countering CCP Drones Act, warning that it could have “severe and far-reaching” negative impacts on public safety if incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The letter, signed by leaders from the Airborne Public Safety Association, Law Enforcement Drone Association, and DRONERESPONDERS (which represent over 6,000 public safety drone programs), states:

“We strongly oppose including the in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY2025… We firmly believe that incorporating the Countering CCP Drone Act into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), slated for discussion on June 12th, 2024, will have profound repercussions. The ramifications of the Countering CCP Drone Act are severe and far-reaching.”

Key Concerns with the Countering CCP Drones Act

The groups argue the Act would be harmful because it:

  1. Overlooks the immediate needs of public safety agencies, compromising ' ability to effectively respond to emergencies.
  2. Over-relies on unproven alternatives to established Chinese which are “impractical and dangerous.” The letter notes: “Simply put, we have not yet reached parity with drone technology.”

READ MORE: DRONE INDUSTRY'S OUTRAGE OVER STEFANIK'S ANTI-CHINA LEGISLATION

Additionally, the groups worry that if DJI drones are included on the FCC's Covered List as the Act proposes, it will undermine public safety drone programs by cutting off the ability to subsidize the higher costs of American drones.

“If DJI is included on the covered list, there will be no tariff revenue to reinvest in the system, undermining the ability to subsidize the higher costs of American drones.”

A Call for Collaboration and a Balanced Approach

While acknowledging concerns about Chinese drones, the groups argue addressing them “should not come at the cost of American lives and the safety of our first responders.”

Instead, they want a balanced approach that “prohibits bad behavior with technology, instead of banning a platform” and enables American to innovate without stifling competition.

The groups conclude by emphasizing that the integrity and effectiveness of public safety drone operations “mustn't be undermined by legislation developed without our input” and call for close collaboration to develop a strategy that safeguards American lives while balancing security concerns.

DroneXL's Take

The drone industry is right to raise concerns about the unintended consequences hastily enacting the Countering CCP Drones Act could have on the thousands of public safety agencies that rely on drones to protect and save lives every day.

A more nuanced approach, as the letter suggests, could address national security issues around Chinese drones without jeopardizing these vital emergency response capabilities. Policymakers should listen to the public safety experts on the front lines and work collaboratively with industry stakeholders to craft sensible, balanced regulations.

Rushing to include the Act in the NDAA without thoroughly vetting the downstream impacts would be reckless. The stakes for first responders and the communities they serve are too high. A misstep here could cost lives.

Photo courtesy of DroneResponders.

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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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