I own a DJI Spark. It's not the most expense drone out there, but it's a good one. I love its ability to take video and photos from angles that I could never manage from the ground. I do not, however, love the fact that law enforcement officials in the United States will soon be able to shoot it down.
According to TechCrunch, the Senate passed the FAA Reauthorization Act earlier this week. It's a bill that does a lot of good stuff like allowing for the continued funding of the FAA and ensuring that passengers on commercial flights aren't treated any more like cattle than we already are. However, there's also some bits in pieces in the bill that provide law enforcement officials with permission to screw with privately-owned drones.
…critics say the new authority that gives the government the right to "disrupt," "exercise control," or "seize or otherwise confiscate" drones that's deemed a "credible threat" is dangerous and doesn't include enough safeguards.
Federal authorities would not need to first obtain a warrant, which rights groups say that authority could be easily abused, making it possible for Homeland Security and the Justice Department and its various law enforcement and immigration agencies to shoot down anyone's drone for any justifiable reason.
Should federal and municipal authorities be able to take out drones that threaten human life or national security by flying into airspace that's reserved for air travel or zipping through the sky over a nuclear power plant? Absolutely. But fuzzy legislation that allows them to zap a drone where they see fit, no matter where it might be flying, sucks. The ACLU states that the bill "endangers the First and Fourth Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the protection from warrantless device seizures." The EFF isn't down with it either. Despite such objections, the bill is expected to be signed into law by President Trump in the near future.
I know that we've got bigger Brett Michael Kavanaugh-shaped fish to fry this week. But this feels like another blow to our ability as private citizens to document our world. It sucks.
Image: by A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, Link