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The Federal Aviation Administration would get new authority to impose fines for drone-related technology that interferes with airports and the national airspace under a new White House legislative proposal.
U.S. officials have warned lawmakers of increased concerns about attacks, smuggling, and flight disruptions as drones become more technologically advanced.
The Biden administration’s proposal sent to lawmakers and obtained Monday by Bloomberg Government would allow airport and critical infrastructure officials to forgo prior consent to track and monitor drones if they put facilities at risk.
The head of the FAA would be able to take action against misuse of drone mitigation systems and interference with the airspace, including imposing as much a $25,000 fine per violation, under the proposal
The Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, and state and local law enforcement would also have authority to disrupt and seize drones, according to the proposal.
Officials would have to use tracking and monitoring technology tested by the Homeland Security or Justice departments, and cleared by the FAA and communications agencies. Counter-drone technology can have other unintended results, such as gathering personal information or interfering with communications, the Government Accountability Office said this month.
Officials also want to curb threats to air traffic control posed by drone-tracking technology. Counter-drone systems could “intentionally or unintentionally disrupt lawful air, land, or sea operations, as well as persons or property on the ground,” the administration proposal said. The administration warned that as more airports and local authorities use counter-drone technology, risks to the national airspace and other transportation systems increases.
DHS has been pushing Congress to reauthorize and expand the agency’s power to address drone threats. The agency is authorized to monitor and track drones, seize control of them, and destroy them under the 2018 Preventing Emerging Threats Act (part of Public Law 115-254). That authority sunsets in October.
The FAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas called the administration’s new plan and legislative proposal “vital” for the department to defend against drone threats.
“These threats are increasing at home and abroad,” Mayorkas said in a statement. The legislative proposal is designed “to help keep our communities safe.”