The Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have issued a joint advisory designed to clarify federal laws and regulations potentially applicable to “the use of capabilities to detect and mitigate threats posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations.” The “Advisory on the Application of Federal Laws to the Acquisition and Use of Technology to Detect and Mitigate Unmanned Aircraft Systems” addresses DOJ-enforced provisions of the U.S. criminal code along with laws and regulations administered by the FAA, DHS and FCC. According to the agencies, the advisory was prompted by high commercial demand for UAS detection and mitigation.
“As the number of drones in our airspace continue 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.”
Aimed at non-federal public and private entities, the advisory (PDF) emphasizes that federal laws may “prevent, limit, or penalize the sale, possession, or use of UAS detection and mitigation capabilities.” It also stated that such technology could run afoul of federal criminal laws relating to surveillance, accessing or damaging computers and damaging an aircraft. The advisory does not cover state and local laws or possible civil liability related to the use of UAS mitigation and detection technology.