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Counter-Drone Technology Advisory

Four federal government agencies issued a joint advisory to clarify federal laws and regulations that apply to “the use of capabilities to detect and mitigate threats posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations.”  This notice, called the “Advisory on the Application of Federal Laws to the Acquisition and Use of Technology to Detect and Mitigate Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” addresses the Department of Justice-enforced provisions of the U.S. criminal code along with laws and regulations administered by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission.

High commercial demand for UAS detection and mitigation prompted the advisory, according to the four agencies.

“As the number of drones in our airspace continues to rise, it is unsurprising that the availability of counter-drone technologies has likewise increased,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. “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.”

The advisory is directed at non-federal public and private entities and emphasizes that federal laws may “prevent, limit, or penalize the sale, possession, or use of UAS detection and mitigation capabilities.”  The advisory also states that such technology could run afoul of federal criminal laws relating to surveillance, accessing or damaging computers and damaging an aircraft.  As this is federal guidance, it does not cover state and local laws or possible civil liability related to the use of UAS mitigation and detection technology.