By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
It seems as if the fear mongering over drones, as well as a few bad apples, is keeping Homeland Security up at night. She wants to have “clear legal authority to identify, track and mitigate” any UAV that could pose a danger to the public, and to national security. But what does that mean?
There’s good cause for the federal government to have that authority. With the FAA investigating several hundred near misses with airliners and drones every year, plus invading the restricted airspace of forest fires and other bad behavior that stupid drone enthusiasts engage in, there is the potential to represent a serious public safety issue. I get that. But shouldn’t that authority rest with the FAA to enforce?
Well, maybe. Maybe not. In spite of the sensationalist reports by news reporters that drones can be used for spying on a neighborhood home, there is evidence that drones are being used to smuggle drugs into the country, and there are instances where drone pilots have put guns that can be remotely triggered on their UAV. That kind of capability would certainly fall within the scope of the feds to do something about illegal drone activity.
We all know that being given authority is one thing, but exercising that authority is another. What does the Secretary of Homeland Security means when she says she wants to be able to “identify, track and mitigate” suspected drones? Are we talking about a cinematographer who is using their drone to capture some great aerial images of a national monument? Are we talking about someone who flies a drone up to a battleship to get a great shot? Or the legitimate interdiction of a drone that gets too close to the White House?
There are good reasons to enforce drone laws, and the FAA has done that with rules that drones stay a minimum of 400 feet from monuments, 5 miles from an airport or military base, and not be flown over crowds. Drone pilots must also register their UAV, and if flying a drone commercially, pass the FAA’s Part 107 certification test. Then there’s state and local regulations. Some law enforcement agencies, are even testing so-called “drone killers” that will take over control of a suspected UAV, force it to land, thereby confiscating it. And every country now has codified serious drone rules with the authority to seize your drone, even at the airport before you enter.
So, there’s already plenty of authority that is having the desired effect of keeping drones corralled into a very limited operation window. But it’s clear that the DHS isn’t worried about those who will obey those regulations, they want to be able to legally go after the bad actors, those who completely disregard the rules. The problem is, should DHS get this authority, it’s going to make it even harder to fly your drone, whether as an aerial cinematographer, or even just a weekend warrior who wants to fly nice.
Personally, I have mixed emotions about all this. I see the need for public safety, I do. But I think there’s been an overreaction that is ruining an industry that is beneficial to commerce, filmmaking, and even public safety. It’s gotten so bad where I live, that I haven’t flown my drone in two years. And everything I want to grab video of, always seems to be off limits.
Guess I can always fake it.
Hat Tip – DIYP