back to article You there. Person, corp, state. Doesn't matter. You better not shoot down or hack a drone. That's our job – US govt

The US government has warned against the use of anti-drone technology by private companies and even American states, saying it could break current wiretap and hacking laws. In a joint advisory put out this week by the Department of Justice, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) …

  1. devTrail


    So, now in the US people can be armed to the teeth within their property and can shoot a man trespassing in their property, but they cannot touch a drone invading their property.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hypocritical

      If it's within range of a 12 gauge filled with buckshot, the 2nd amendment trumps all else.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Hypocritical

        The 2nd Amendment says nothing about shooting drones. In fact, it doesn't say anything about shooting period. Really. Go read it for yourself. Its pretty easy to parse, being just the one line.

        With that said, not buckshot. Goose loads, modified choke. Handloads optimized for your particular firearm work best. Good out to 80 or 90 yards, maybe 100 if the weather cooperates and the shooter has clues. Any duck hunter worth his/her salt should have no trouble taking out drones if they are in range.

        1. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Hypocritical

          In the western US, there is a bit of pithy advice when dealing with a protected species predator going after one's livestock. Shoot, shovel, and shut up. I expect that could be expanded to drones rather easily, just make sure to shoot from a blind in case it has visual transmission.

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Hypocritical

            Or as my grandfather used to say: "I have 210 acres, a swamp and a backhoe. You'll never be found"

            1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

              Re: Hypocritical

              What the dogs don't finish we feed to the pigs.

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: Hypocritical

      Another perfect example of American security through punitive legislation.

      'We're not going to harden drone security, or we won't be able to gain access when we want. We're just going to send anyone who does take advantage of the weak protections to maximum security for twenty-five years.'

  2. elDog

    So when the American rapacious symbol (the eagle) takes down a drone operated by some nebulous group

    it can be sued or put in an ICE cage?

    What if the CIA takes down a drone operated by the FBI or TeaParty?

    This should be fun to watch, from a distance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So when the American rapacious symbol (the eagle) takes down a drone ...

      At least one got away with it....

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I'm telling you, falconry is the way to go!!

    "Sorry about your drone, Uncle Sam, but it overflew my property, and Hercules' home, and his territorial instincts got the better of him."

    (Tux, because he wants to be out there, knocking drones from the sky, if only someone would give him the chance.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm telling you, falconry is the way to go!!

      We *could* do a kickstarter for a Trebuchet for Tux ....

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: I'm telling you, falconry is the way to go!!

        No he can fly like this lot

  4. veti Silver badge

    That's nice

    At last, a chance of some well-deserved work for that most sad and neglected class of Americans - lawyers.

    Let's hope Congress is in no hurry to make a new law. We wouldn't want things to be clear, would we? As it is, this "guidance" basically means "if you're rich enough to afford the lawyers you can do whatever you like, if you're poor then you daren't do anything" - which is exactly the way Trump and co. like it to be.

  5. DS999 Silver badge

    This is solvable

    Reserve a specific very high frequency as a "drone barrier" that, with an approved federal license, can be broadcast on/over property you own. It would be subject to specific power limits not to be exceeded outside the boundaries of your property. Drones made after a certain date are required to provide a warning to the operator as they approach such an area, and refuse to proceed beyond a point where that signal is present at a specified strength.

    That way owners of stadiums, operators of airports, etc. could place boundaries around their properties to keep drones away. It wouldn't do anything for "I don't want you flying over my property and spying on my wife sunbathing nude in the backyard" but if they're 100 feet in the air they don't need to be over your property to see onto your property, so the privacy of one's backyard is already irretrievably lost.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: This is solvable

      "so the privacy of one's backyard is already irretrievably lost."

      My "backyard" is about 2,000 feet from the nearest property line. We have had drones chasing the livestock (laying hens, sheep, dairy cows and a very young colt) and peeping at a group of soccer moms taking part in a synchronized swimming exercise class. What say you now?

      1. Spanners Silver badge

        Re: This is solvable

        What say you now?

        How powerful is your muckspreader? (sh*tchucker)

        I suspect that drones don't work once they have enough "natural fertiliser" stuck to them...

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: This is solvable

          wow, what a crappy idea. :)

    2. BazNav

      Re: This is solvable

      You can mess up a drone with high frequency sound, and drone barriers using this tech have been demonstrated:

      I would be interesting in seeing which of the laws they mentioned this violates

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: This is solvable

        If its sound, shouldn't it be classified as speech, which is free?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: This is solvable

          Free speech means the government can't restrict what you say. But that doesn't mean it has to let you say it at 200 decibels with some monster speakers in your backyard to torment your neighbors. I imagine downing a drone with sound waves would be viewed as similar to attempting to rupture your neighbors eardrums.

          If it is beyond the frequency of human hearing it would be difficult for the drone operator to tell you did it however, especially if you can disguise the source (i.e. aren't filmed shortly before the drone goes down aiming some fancy looking gun at it)

  6. Dinanziame Silver badge


    legal to pick up transmission to and from a drone in order to track or monitor it [...] likely illegal to record, decode, capture or store those transmissions.

    What's the distinction between all those terms? If I pick up transmissions, am I not capturing them? For that matter, what's the difference between record and store? I appreciate the fact this is deemed likely illegal, since as per the silly common law practice, it is impossible to know if what you're doing is legal or illegal until somebody sues and it is decided by the Supreme Court.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      As someone who lives in a non-"common law" country, I can tell you that it's usually _still_ difficult to know if what you're doing is legal or illegal until someone sues, due to Parliament being a bunch of illiterate morons unable to write sentences that don't contradict each other or themselves. As a bonus, because precedent is non-binding, even if someone manages to settle the matter in court, you are _still_ not sure.

      Someone ought to invent the field of computational legislation.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        Writing laws is hard. In order to get enough people to vote for it, legislators often find it... expedient to leave some ambiguity about the terms.

        That way, everyone can kid themselves that the courts will apply "common sense", they can all vote for the law and pretend to their supporters that it says what they want it to, and move on to the next headline.

        The alternative is not only hard work, but would also drastically reduce the number of laws passed. That would undoubtedly be a blessing in many ways, but might be very awkward in others.

  7. John Jennings

    TBH, the physical protection laws cited for 'Kinetic' are a strech at best.

    It applies to citizens transiting airspace - though the definition of transiting (and of a citizen!) is broad. Most of it only applies to the FAA requiring to make policy for the protection of navigable airspace - but the definition of that is "airspace above the minimum altitudes of flight prescribed by regulations under this subpart and subpart III of this part, including airspace needed to ensure safety in the takeoff and landing of aircraft."

    Caselaw in the US has placed that altitude (for practical purposes) at 500 feet (Urban), or 350 feet above any local structure (rural) - however, that could change, it is the current lower limit of the FAA in space not directly round an airport...

  8. Unoriginal Handle - how to stop a pervy kid taking pictures into bedrooms. Might fall foul of this lot, but it's a fun watch.

  9. Alister

    Using radar, electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR) or acoustic methods is probably fine, but radio frequency (RF) is a different matter given the tight controls there are over use of bandwidth to prevent interference.

    Umm, you do know that radar is RF, don't you?

  10. First Light

    I ****ing hate ****ing drones. HATE THEM! It may be some kind of evolved response to birds of prey swooping down on my ancestors hunting on the plains, or something. I feel like I'm being attacked when I'm at some event and a blasted drone flies over me. It's so invasive. At one point the laws in California prohibited drones flying over private airspace and I used to fantasize about sitting with a BB gun and shooting some down. This weird government advisory just ruined those daydreams!

  11. Reginald Onway

    If it looks like a Duck...

    The US government has been really pushing drones for police,corporations and governments while feverishly working to suppress use by mere citizens. I figure drones are key players in future plans for more intimate mass surveillance. And so, all the more reason to wave law books in front of users. And, potential abusers.

    But, officer, I was minding my own business hunting ducks and this one came along so....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If it looks like a Duck...

      Is it okay to put out a bunch of wooden drone decoys to attract the other drones? Can we shoot 'em after they land?

  12. The_Idiot

    Of course...

    ... the issuing of this advice is not to be taken by _anyone_ to raise the possibility the Agencies mentioned just launched fleets of Q drones bearing nondescript markers, but highly adept at electronic and visual monitoring. _Nobody_ would do _that_ -er, would they? Um... _would_ they?

  13. Nunyabiznes

    The problem

    Is this:

    "The four government agencies note that they have been given special dispensation in the law to use anti-drone tech – and awarded themselves the right to shoot down any drone any time they like – but everyone else has to be careful."

    Anytime the government gives itself carte blanche, the citizens are usually suppressed.

  14. Graybyrd

    Yet another tactical advance

    No big surprise here. Drones are the next great advance in surveillance, interdiction, and suppression. Drone swarms are already an advanced military weapon. So along come silent discovery and tracking drones to alert interdiction and suppression drones followed by, perhaps, a lethal termination drone as a sought-after populace control system. So, in advance we get sanctions to cut off civilian reaction at the ankles? No big surprise there.

    To be completely sinister about this, we've fully experienced federal troops in camouflage uniforms devoid of names or unit identification patches, wearing full face masks, unleashed upon civilian demonstrators on U.S. city streets. Agencies deny responsibility. How much more convenient to use swarms of unidentified drones, carrying video cameras, other unleashing gas cartridges? None are identifiable; how convenient. Blame can be pointed wherever convenient.

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