back to article Uncle Sam gives itself the right to shoot down any drone, anywhere, any time, any how

The US federal government has just authorized its staff to shoot down any drone they consider a threat. The provision was added to the routine reauthorization act for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) – the watchdog that deals with America's skies – and has invited the ire of civil liberties groups who are unhappy at the …

  1. larokus

    This isn't going to fly

    I'm getting tired of all the droning on about this

  2. NoneSuch
    Coat

    The United States of Gunfire

    "It's coming right for us!" BLAM BLAM BLAM

  3. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    Sky's the limit with this kind of legislation. Hope they get their legal eagles on it.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. jake Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    "How exactly do you shoot down a drone, with a pistol?"

    12 gauge, modified choke, magnum goose loads. Good out to 80 or 90 yards or a tick more (depending on the weather, the shooter, the gun, and the handloader). Any fairly proficient duck hunter should have no problem taking out a drone.

    Special note for the hand-wringers: the collateral damage should be nil.

  6. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    That really depends on the pistol and the training of the person shooting said pistol.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    10 gauge would work better. MAGA.

  8. jmch Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    "" Credible threat" is a specific legal term"

    Their word against yours if your drone gets shot down. And thanks to patriot act, you're not allowed to know what the "Credible threat" was, and neither will your lawyer, nor the local judge

  9. jake Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    I could probably take out a drone just as fast with my Kimber as the 12 guage ... but the Kimber's lead is dangerous a lot further down-range than the shotgun. Proper tool for the job and all that. The last thing any sane shooter would want is to hurt somebody.

  10. LucreLout Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    How many private drones with cameras are used for legitimate purposes (such as...)?

    Inspecting my roof tiles and guttering without needing to go up a very tall ladder, which I don't own. I don't own a drone either mind, but I can see why it'd be useful for this.

  11. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Trollface

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    "How exactly do you shoot down a drone, with a pistol?"

    Hollywood shoots down all kinds of shit with a pistol

  12. goodjudge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    "The last thing any sane shooter would want is to hurt somebody."

    Problem is, as we know from regular news stories, that there are plenty of legal gun owners in the US who are anything but sane, either in the pejorative or medical senses. And a few more in other parts of the world.

  13. anothercynic Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    Even easier... streamers! Enough to foul up the props for long enough to disrupt airflow and cause it to lose air space. ;-)

  14. strum Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    >"credible threat… to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset."

    "credible threat" isn't the key part of the clause. "the safety or security of a covered facility or asset" can easily include a drone investigating a corrupt police dept., a covert (potentially illegal) 'security' operation, a politician screwing his mistress...

  15. vir Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    Even easier... streamers!

    Having a good chuckle at the thought of Secret Service agents wheeling out a huge party popper on the roof of the White House.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    "The last thing any sane shooter would want is to hurt somebody."

    Okay, I'm pretty sure that what you MEAN is that the "last thing any sane sporting shooter would want to do is hurt a human being when shooting", but, erm, there is the little matter of guns having been invented in the first place mostly to, erm, kill human beings, and there are an awful lot of (one hopes) entirely sane people employed in armies and things like that, trained to use their firearms to kill other people if called upon to do so.

    It'd be nice if the world weren't like that, but there you go.

  17. Drone Pilot

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    Even easier... streamers! Enough to foul up the props for long enough to disrupt airflow and cause it to lose air space. ;-)

    -----------

    Yup, exactly what they want to walk around with down-south - a streamer-slinging 12-gauge.

    Do the streamers come in red white and blue or rainbow colours?

  18. jake Silver badge

    Re: "Credible Threat"

    Bog roll works quite nicely from the look of it.

    Regardless, I'll stick to goose loads. More range.

  19. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Inevitable

    I expect every Government will give themselves similar rights.

    Government X can also claim it was a US Military Drone / Terrorist Drone / Drug Dealer / Paedophile etc (delete as required, or possibly claim all apply).

    Is your flying car a drone if autopilot engaged? What about Uber Autonomous Flying Taxies?

  20. Waseem Alkurdi

    Re: Inevitable

    Is your flying car a drone if autopilot engaged?

    Is yout civilian aircraft a drone if autopilot engaged?

  21. Donn Bly

    Re: Inevitable

    Only if it is unmanned.

    So if you are sitting in it, no. If you get out and instruct it to park itself, yes.

  22. jake Silver badge

    Re: Inevitable

    Human piloted vehicles are already prohibited from anywhere Uncle Sam says. Don't believe me? Try buzzing the Golden Gate Bridge without authorization some time. Or parking your car and walking away from it at an unauthorized spot at, say, an airport. Or driving/flying into a military zone unannounced. (NOTE! I do not really suggest this! Don't try it! We get enough news reports of idiots Darwinizing themselves as it is.)

  23. Nolveys Silver badge

    Re: Inevitable

    Is yout civilian aircraft a drone if autopilot engaged?

    That depends on who or what the autopilot is getting married to.

  24. werdsmith Silver badge

    Re: Inevitable

    Or driving/flying into a military zone unannounced.

    I know this to be true from my time in the US, but it only takes a radio call and if they are not busy then they have no problem with a civilian light aircraft flying an approach and low pass along the runway (no landing).

    I wouldn't even bother asking at Marham or Brize etc, because the RAF are really not interested.

  25. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Re: @jake

    idiots Darwinizing themselves

    Best phrase of the day!

  26. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Re: Inevitable

    I wouldn't even bother asking at Marham or Brize etc, because the RAF are really not interested.

    I dunno, if rock apes had carte blanche to shoot down any UFO, they may be interested. Otherwise, it'd just be a lot of paperwork.

    I'm not sure activism should be a good defence (against buckshot). There are plenty of places with restrictions against photography or overflights, often for good reasons. But I guess that's part of the security challenge. If you're a private pilot, maps would show restricted airspace. Regular maps might not show anything, and proposals to geo-fence off restricted areas might just be a handy list of sites to scout out with your trusty drone.

    I'm guessing there's also a public safety argument as well. So figure on some popular protest event and there might be multiple drones from press, authorities, protestors and counter protestors, and no simple way to deconflict the airspace and stopping drone wreckage.

    Hmm... or, it could be an opportunity to arm RC fighters, or create mini-AAA systems..

  27. Shooter

    Re: Inevitable

    I'll just leave this here...

    http://dilbert.com/strip/1989-05-18

  28. 10forcash

    Re: @jake

    Darwinize It's Darwinate or Darwinating - as in to auto-~Darwinate, which hopefully will happen to the sub-branch of humans that apply 'ize' to proper words and assume it's now a legitimate 'new' word (same goes for anyone starting a sentence with 'So' followed by a pause....).

  29. jake Silver badge

    Re: @jake

    So ... according to you, English doesn't mutate?

    Fair enough.

    Sprec tō mē on Englice. Mīn lyfthærnflota is ful ǣla.

  30. big_D Silver badge

    Re: Inevitable

    In Germany, you can fly drones at model aircraft airfields or over open fields.

    You cannot use it in towns or cities, over industrial areas or over residential areas. I believe forests are also limited.

    The bigger ones have to be registered.

    You cannot upload any footage taken with the drone online, if there are identifiable people on it (faces, vehicle registration numbers, signage etc.), without first getting a waiver - but that applies to all photography and videography in Germany. There are exceptions, if you are filming one person and another walks across the background, for example, although you would do well to blur them out, before uploading.

  31. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: @jake

    "Mīn lyfthærnflota is ful ǣla."

    Wonderful use of juxtaposition Jake :)

    Now we just need somewhere for the eels to fit in.

  32. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Re: Inevitable

    Is your flying car a drone if autopilot engaged?

    What is a drone? Did they specify it as a flying object? Or do, for example, meatbags on foot navigatingstumbling with a fondleslab in front of their face qualify as drone?

  33. hplasm Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: @jake

    "So ... according to you, English doesn't mutate?"

    No, I think he's saying English doesn't mutationize...

  34. jake Silver badge

    Re: @jake

    Did the great Bill Watterson teach you nothing? Verbing weirds language. Weirding is not a bad thing, especially in informal writing/speech. Unless you lack the humo(u)r gene, of course, in which case I feel very, very sorry for you.

  35. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    High compensation would be one way. It wouldn't really bother legitimate police action and could be heavy enough to satisfy drone owners, but you're not going to get terrrrrists claiming it.

  36. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Or better still have drones fitted with some gov backdoor. If they see it and it won't respond to a take-over request then its not licensed and so shooting down is justified.

    Now such an argument applies here only because a drone is often bought as a toy but poses a significant threat to aircraft, etc, which is rather different from encryption that protects everyone's commerce and privacy.

  37. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    WTF?

    High compensation ? What on earth for ? It's just a frakkin' drone.

    Keep it away from places it's not supposed to be, end of.

    I have popcorn ready for the impending reports of idiots getting their kit shot to pieces next to an airport or prison.

  38. Public Citizen

    One easy solution would be to develop a drone identification system symilar to IFF but lower powered and on one of the bands already designated for low power commercial usage, think bluetooth but slightly more power.

  39. John Savard Silver badge

    Appropriate Limitations?

    It's pretty obvious that if you see a drone with a bomb on it, you don't have time to get a warrant. So what would be reasonable to look for is after-the-fact recourse if a drone was operating legally and there was no reason to be suspicious of it.

  40. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Appropriate Limitations?

    If they shot it down they'll say "they were suspicious of it" and that will be all the proof they need. The police in the US kill people who don't pose a threat and claim "I felt my life was being threatened" and all too often juries accept that - though fortunately that's beginning to change as it is finally started gaining much needed press attention the last couple years.

    Until people are no longer killed without justification, no one is going to care about drones getting shot down without justification.

  41. Spanners Silver badge

    Re: Appropriate Limitations?

    The police in the US kill people who don't pose a threat and claim "I felt my life was being threatened" and all too often juries accept that

    That will only work if they can prove that they knew that the drone pilot was black.

  42. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Re: A Drone with a bomb attached

    Oh, you must mean those Amazon delivery drones that will probably drop their packages on the address without detecting who or what is below...

    [see icon]

    As all the phone lines to the properties in my area are run overhead for the last 50/100 ft I wonder if those drones and their operators will be liable for the costs to fix the lines that that will inevitably run into?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: US Police killing people

    Yeah, like the naked man in his bath that was repeatedly tasered until he collapsed and died. What real threat did he pose eh? Oh, he had an AK-47 stuffed up his rectum. Justifiable killing!

    Posting AC for obviouse reasons like not wanting to tempt fate.

  44. jake Silver badge

    Re: US Police killing people

    Uh, AC, that was in Toronto. Canada. Not the US.

    Unless you were confused, talking about a man tazed in Bath ... According to that article, "Across the country police used the stun guns 30 times a day last year."

  45. big_D Silver badge

    Re: US Police killing people

    It was "interesting" to read that at the San Berandino incident, the police there shot more ammunition there, on that one incident, than the entire German police force had used in a year!

  46. The Oncoming Scorn
    WTF?

    Re: US Police killing people

    West Milwaukee police officers 2017.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45739335

  47. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Re: US Police killing people

    @Jake: ""Across the country police used the stun guns 30 times a day last year."

    That is atrocious. Tasers were introduced as an alternative to deadly force, but there is no way in hell Firearms trained officers would have fired 30 times in one day/ This is urban pacification, and it should be resisted.

  48. jake Silver badge

    Re: US Police killing people

    Toronto police officers, Nov. 7, 2015.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2017/03/23/toronto-police-cleared-in-death-of-man-tasered-eight-times-in-bathtub.html

    I was unaware of the case in Milwaukee.

  49. jake Silver badge

    Re: US Police killing people

    Grunty, it might be atrocious, but there is very little this Yank can do about your cops. I have enough on my plate in this country.

  50. Waseem Alkurdi

    If there's a big fat grenade sticking out of the thing, then blow it up.

    If there isn't a big fat grenade, then hijack/reroute/buzz it away.

    Or maybe set up a virtual no-fly zone and code firmware into drones accordingly to obey.

    Tough nut?

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