Given increased demand for systems to detect, track, identify and mitigate small drones flying in and around critical infrastructures special events, four federal government partners on Monday released an advisory for non-federal public and private entities on the federal laws and regulations that govern the use of these counter unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technologies.
The advisory, issued by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communications Commission, essentially provides a reference for state and local governments, airports, and the private sector to guide them when considering the use of drone security technologies.
The advisory is filled with the applicable laws and regulations but nothing that moves the needle in terms of new policy or authorities.
“As the number of drones in our airspace continue to rise, it is unsurprising that the availability of counter-drone technologies has likewise increased,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement. “Because these technologies may be presented for sale without a full discussion of important legal requirements, this advisory steps forward to provide an outline of the relevant legal landscape. By encouraging a common understanding of potentially applicable law, the advisory can help foster responsible industry growth and promote public safety.”
Currently, DHS, DoJ, and the Departments of Defense and Energy have limited authorities to detect and mitigate potential UAS threats to facilities and covered assets in the homeland. The FAA, which is authorized to test drone security technologies, has worked with airports to evaluate technologies to detect and track small UAS, although these efforts have been very limited due to concerns technologies could interfere with local airspace operations.
The guidance outlines the primary technologies used for detecting and mitigating drone threats. It highlights that systems using radar, electro-optic and infrared, and acoustic sensing generally don’t conflict with federal criminal surveillance laws but must adhered to laws and regulations managed by the FAA and FCC.
However, drone security systems using radio frequency technology, which can record or capture signals, generally are prohibited by non-authorized users.