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Congress grants feds power to shoot down consumer drones

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What could this mean for drone owners?

Under the new law, the ACLU say it is conceivable that law enforcement or immigration agencies could shoot down a drone for any reason they deemed justifiable. This could be particularly problematic if, say a journalist was filming a protest with a drone of something that authorities didn’t want the public to witness (for example, people being beaten by private security guards at Standing Rock).

A photo taken from a drone filming the women’s march last year in Vermont. Civil rights groups are worried that a new law may allow authorities to shoot down drones without a warrant for almost any reason.

The ACLU admitted that sometimes drones do pose a privacy or security risk to people in the public. They agree that in certain situations it was understandable that authorities may need to shoot or bring down a drone but the current bill substantially overstepped the mark. ACLU spokesman told TechCrunch: “These provisions give the government virtually carte blanche to surveil, seize, or even shoot a drone out of the sky — whether owned by journalists or commercial entities — with no oversight or due process.”

Another nonprofit, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) made a statement that the bill endangers Americans’ protection from warrantless device seizures.  They argued that Congress needs to provide adequate oversight and limits to protect drones users rights for journalism, activism, and recreation.

We won’t know the full impact this new law will have until it has been in effect for some time.  To any of those who would say: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” recall all the instance where those in charge abuse their power. There should be strict limitations and strong oversight in place to prevent government overreach.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest from this story.

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