Police could take out drones over fires and law enforcement activity
The Trump administration is pushing new rules that would let authorities track and destroy drones flying over sensitive areas, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
The rules would permit authorities to “disrupt, redirect, disable, seize or confiscate” any unmanned aerial vehicle without prior consent under certain circumstances, according to the documents, which the White House shared with congressional committees Tuesday and were published by the Times.
There is mounting concern about the use of drones. A man was arrested two years ago for trying fly a drone over the White House and a drone crashed at the U.S. Open tennis championship around that time. A falling drone in and of itself poses a hazard. And the fact that drones could carry dangerous payloads exacerbates safety concerns.
That anxiety is probably growing since a federal court struck down a rule requiring citizens to register their drones earlier this month.
At the same time, many companies use drones to monitor oil and gas rigs and factories. Amazon amzn and other companies hope to use drones to deliver products. And drones can be used to gather important information by reporters or researchers, so this will likely be a closely watched process.
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The proposed rules would allow police to disrupt, divert, or destroy drones flying over sensitive areas which could include fires, search and rescue operations, and criminal investigations. Different agencies would be able to set more detailed regulations specific to their needs.
Some companies, like Dedrone, specialize in detecting and tracking drones flying over sensitive areas. But under current rules, they cannot jam signals to the drones and it’s unclear whether they can legally be destroyed. Instead, authorities locate the drone operator on the ground to stop the flight.
As tech news The Verge pointed out, some states already allow police to disable drones for safety reasons.
Fortune contacted the White House press office for comment and will update this story as needed.