Washington, D.C. – In a letter sent last month, Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen reiterated the department’s need for new legal authorities to combat the growing threat from drones and other Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to ensure for a robust and comprehensive security framework. Today the House approved an amended version of H.R. 6401, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, as part of the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This critical legislation – sponsored by Congressman Michael McCaul, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Congressman Steve Chabot, Chairman of Small Business and senior member of Judiciary Committee – provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) with the necessary authorities to protect their facilities and operations from security risks posed by drones and other UAS.
The Preventing Emerging Threats Act is a forward-looking bill that allows our nation to stay ahead of the dynamic threats to our homeland by providing DHS and DOJ the authority to act quickly when a drone poses a security risk to high-valued, high-profile events or facilities while also limiting the geographic area where the drone’s data may be collected and maintained.
Chairman McCaul: “The House took a critical step today in protecting our homeland from the growing threat posed by drones. Though drones are used by everyday Americans for a variety of purposes – from capturing wedding ceremonies to monitoring crop growth, to name a few – we have also seen drones used by criminals to smuggle drugs across our borders or surveil law enforcement and we’ve seen drones used overseas by terrorist groups, like ISIS, to carry out attacks. This legislation strikes the right balance by providing DHS and DOJ with specific, credible authorities to take down a threatening drone while also protecting a lawful drone user’s privacy by limiting the geographic area where data may be collected and the circumstances of data maintained. It is vital that our laws keep pace with the evolving tactics used by our enemies to attack our homeland and I applaud my colleagues for supporting this important national security legislation. I also want to extend a special thanks to Chairmen Chabot and Shuster for working with me closely on this needed legislation. I also want to thank Rep. Vicky Hartzler for her efforts to better secure America’s skies.”
Chairman Chabot: “The simple truth is, drones have a vast array of capabilities and they should be monitored accordingly. This bipartisan legislation delivers the accountability needed for this quickly emerging technology. Most importantly, this legislation identifies and limits the nefarious threats posed by Unmanned Aerial Systems. This language will better protect American’s from terrorist groups like ISIS that aim to use drones in attacks against soft targets within our own borders. I applaud my colleagues for supporting this common-sense legislation that reigns in unmanned vehicles and keeps our communities, big and small, safe.”
Background on Preventing Emerging Threats Act (Title VI, Division H):
- Grants the DHS and DOJ the ability to address threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to large-scale events and critical government facilities utilizing counter UAS technology.
- Allows the Departments to react, in real-time, to stop acts of terror and threats of violence.
- Protects privacy by strictly limiting law enforcement monitoring capabilities to unmanned aircraft.
- Provides consistent and clear public notification about no-fly areas to the public by focusing counter-UAS capabilities on high value or high profile targets.
- Allows DHS and DOJ to determine the best technology for its needs at a specific location.
- Allows DHS and DOJ to work with the FAA to determine the proper type of technology to use to protect a target based on the circumstances.
- Protects privacy by limiting the authorities to specific times and places while strictly limiting law enforcement monitoring capabilities to unmanned aircraft.
- Limits when and how Federal law enforcement can share data obtained while hunting for illegal drones.
Legislative text of FAA Reauthorization is available, here.
Read McCaul-Chabot’s opinion piece on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, here.