pcloudyn.png
Saturday January 18th, 2020 1:01AM

Government may gain new power to track, shoot down drones

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

An aviation bill Congress is rushing to approve contains a little-noticed section that would give authorities the power to track, intercept and destroy drones they consider a security threat, without needing a judge's approval.

Supporters say law enforcement needs this power to protect Americans from terrorists who are learning how to use drones as deadly weapons.

They point to the Islamic State terrorist group's use of bomb-carrying drones on battlefields in Iraq, and warn that terrorists could go after civilian targets in the United States.

Critics say the provision would give the government unchecked power to decide when drones are a threat. They say the government could use its newfound power to restrict drone-camera news coverage of protests or controversial government facilities, such as the new detention centers for young migrants.

The provision is tucked in a huge bill that provides $1.7 billion in disaster relief and authorizes programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drones. The House approved the measure Wednesday by a 398-23 vote, and the Senate is expected pass it on to President Donald Trump's desk in the coming days. The White House signaled support of the drone provision in July.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced the Preventing Emerging Threats Act this year. It would give the Homeland Security Department and the Justice Department power to develop and deploy a system to spot, track and shoot down drones, as unmanned aircraft are called. Officers would have the authority to hack a drone operator's signal and take control of the device.

The bill was never considered on its own by the full Senate or the House. Instead, in private negotiations that ended last weekend, it was tucked into a "must-pass" piece of FAA legislation.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote in a recent op-ed that the threat of drone attacks "is outpacing our ability to respond." She said criminals use drones to smuggle drugs across the border, but worse, terrorists like the Islamic State are deploying them on the battlefield.

"We need to acknowledge that our first and last chance to stop a malicious drone might be during its final approach to a target," she wrote.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement this week that the measure "would finally give federal law enforcement the authority we need to counter the use of drones by drug traffickers, terrorists and criminals."

The National Football League's top security executive recently endorsed the bill's intent but said it should go further by letting trained local police officers intercept drones. The official, Cathy Lanier, a former Washington, D.C., police chief, said the NFL is alarmed by an increase in drone flyovers at stadiums.

Opponents including the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the proposal gives the government unchecked power to track and seize drones without regard for the privacy and free-speech rights of legitimate drone operators. It exempts the government agencies from certain laws, including limits on wiretapping.

The bill provides no oversight or means to question a government decision about what is a "credible threat" and what is an "asset" or "facility" in need of protection when drones are nearby.

News organizations are increasingly using drones. They deploy them to cover natural disasters like the recent flooding from Hurricane Florence and also controversies such as the Trump administration's construction of new camps for migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Being able to see footage of protests, the size of protests, being able to see facilities like those at the border is useful — those are newsworthy events," said India McKinney, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Without a specific means to protect First Amendment rights — something not in the bill — "it's entirely feasible to think that the DOJ or DHS could just decide that a drone owned by a news organization provides a credible threat and then destroys the footage," she said.

The National Press Photographers Association has joined in opposing the provision.

"It will chill newsgathering using drones by news organizations and individual journalists," said Mickey Osterreicher, lawyer for the press photographers group.

___

David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kavanaugh faces crucial vote, White House eyes GOP senators
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces a crucial vote Friday as a Senate panel decides whether to move his nomination on to the full Senate
8:34AM ( 16 minutes ago )
US consumer spending up modest 0.3 percent in August
US consumer spending up modest 0.3 percent in August, slowest in 6 months, as inflation slows
8:33AM ( 18 minutes ago )
GOP races to first Kavanaugh vote after hearing from accuser
Senate Republicans are plowing forward with a committee vote Friday on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee
8:19AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Woods out, McIlroy in for Ryder Cup foursomes
Tiger Woods is sitting out the afternoon foursomes on the opening day of the Ryder Cup
7:40AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: US gets 2nd Ryder Cup point as Europe falters
United States gets 2nd Ryder Cup point as Europe falters
7:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: US gets 1st Ryder Cup point on the board
United States gets 1st Ryder Cup point on the board
6:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Goff has 465 yards, 5 TDs, propels Rams past Vikings, 38-31
Jared Goff passed for career highs of 465 yards and five touchdowns in the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams' 38-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings
1:05AM ( 7 hours ago )
No. 16 Miami gets 3 defensive TDs, rolls by Tar Heels 47-10
Touchdown chain: No. 16 Miami ties school record with three defensive TDs, rolls past North Carolina 47-10
12:03AM ( 8 hours ago )
When was the party? Kavanaugh's 1982 summer comes into focus
Testimony by the woman who says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her, Kavanaugh's calendars and a memoir by his close friend combine to narrow the timeframe of when such an attack would have occurred in the summer of 1982
11:53PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Football
Trump urges Senate to vote after Kavanaugh's fierce defense
President Donald Trump urging the Senate on to a vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, after Kavanaugh's angry pushback against accusations of sexual misconduct.
7:57AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Google CEO to meet with US lawmakers after previous snub
Google CEO Sundar Pichai to meet with US lawmakers about allegations of political bias, internet regulations, antitrust concerns, potential expansion into China
7:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump gets the fierce Kavanaugh showing he wanted
President Donald Trump and his allies were shaken by Christine Blasey Ford's emotional appearance, but heartened by Judge Brett Kavanaugh's forceful pushback
7:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Journalists slam pending Bangladesh digital security law
Journalists, human rights groups criticize a bill that recently passed Parliament, saying it will stifle dissent and curb free speech in Bangladesh
1:45AM ( 7 hours ago )
Supreme Court Justice Kagan won't discuss Kavanaugh
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan won't talk about the confirmation process that could seat Brett Cavanaugh and tip the nation's highest court to a conservative majority
1:37AM ( 7 hours ago )
1 hearing, 2 witnesses, but vastly different takeaways
It was one hearing with just two witnesses but, in an era of deep political polarization and yawning cultural divisions, Americans came away Thursday having heard very different things
1:33AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Erdogan: Turkish journalist should be extradited
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says prominent Turkish journalist Can Dundar, who is in exile in Germany, is a convicted spy and should be extradited to Turkey
7:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
Stocks turn lower on concern about Italy's spending plans
Global stocks have turned lower amid concern that Italy's populist government plans to spend heavily on policies that could add to the country's heavy debt load.
7:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Merkel backs four-way meeting on Syria
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hopes to get together with the leaders of Turkey, Russia and France next month to discuss the situation in Syria
7:37AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Eric Reid's brother 'immensely proud' of him
Houston Texans rookie safety Justin Reid says he is thrilled his older brother Eric Reid is back in the NFL
1:49PM ( 19 hours ago )
Eric Reid back in the NFL after signing with Panthers
Eric Reid is back in the NFL, safety signs 1-year contract with the Carolina Panthers
1:39PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Kaepernick says Reid is a 'social warrior'
Eric Reid is back in the NFL, safety signs 1-year contract with the Carolina Panthers
1:21PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Kavanaugh faces crucial vote, White House eyes GOP senators
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces a crucial vote Friday as a Senate panel decides whether to move his nomination on to the full Senate
8:34AM ( 18 minutes ago )
US consumer spending up modest 0.3 percent in August
US consumer spending up modest 0.3 percent in August, slowest in 6 months, as inflation slows
8:33AM ( 19 minutes ago )
GOP races to first Kavanaugh vote after hearing from accuser
Senate Republicans are plowing forward with a committee vote Friday on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee
8:19AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Malaysia's Mahathir: A portrait of the premier as an old man
After nearly a generation out of power, 93-year-old Malaysian PM clearly relishing return to power
8:14AM ( 38 minutes ago )
UK's Pret chain vows 'meaningful change' after allergy death
The chief executive of British restaurant chain Pret A Manger has apologized to the family of a 15-year-old girl who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a sandwich she bought at London's Heathrow Airport
8:10AM ( 42 minutes ago )