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Who’s Watching the Watchers: Why Drafting New Laws Against Rogue Drones is Necessary

The sudden popularity of drones means that lawmakers are playing catch up while trying to respect the fundamental rights of every citizen. With each passing year, drones are getting more sophisticated. They can fly for longer, take 4K photos and videos, and are much more user-friendly. They are becoming so popular, that commercial giants such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and Dominos are contemplating drone delivery systems. Long story short, drones are here to stay and they pose all kinds of safety and privacy concerns.

Security agencies have already deployed technologies such as the Skylock anti drone system in an attempt to protect military bases and sensitive buildings from rogue drones. If you think drones entering a protected area is uncommon then here is a story.

October this year, two men in the UK were sentenced to a combined 15 years of prison time for smuggling drugs into prisons located all across northern and central England. If you didn’t guess it already, they made the drops using drones. The gang operated a fleet of drones of which a whopping 11 were intercepted by the authorities.

Drone Laws: What are they

Different states have different drone laws and not knowing them can lead to prison time or hefty fines.

For example, New York City authorities banned the flying of drones in the city back in 2017. The authorities have urged citizens to call 911 if they spot a drone. While there is no actual law banning drones in the city, the official policy is to restrict drones while adequate federal and state laws are being formulated.

While there are several local laws, drone enthusiasts need to understand a few basic ones. First of all, drones need to be registered with the FAA. This is a federal law, which means it’s uniform for all 50 states. Any drone flyer is also mandated by law to adhere to Special Rule for Model Aircraft listed down by the FAA. Among the many rules listed, drone pilots need to fly their aircrafts so that it’s visible from the ground. The rulebook also states that drone pilots should always give way to manned aircrafts. Informing the airport control tower if you are flying too close to the airport is also a legal mandate.

Another Federal law that you need to keep in mind is that it’s illegal to fly drones near a stadium with a capacity of 30,000 or more. Considering many modern prisons and government buildings have Skylock anti-drone system or other similar deterrents, it’s also best to avoid flying near them at all cost.

One Major Confusion

It’s still unclear if private property owners have the right to take down rogue drones flying above their land. A 2015 incident in Bullitt County, Kentucky resulted in the arrest of a homeowner who shot down a drone once he spotted it flying over his home. This is still one of the more confusing and undefined aspects of drone flying and deterrence. With global players gearing up to release thousands of commercial drones, clear federal laws in terms of drones flying above personal properties need to be drafted, fast.

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