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The Trump Administration Wants To Be Able To Track and Hack Your Drone (fastcompany.com) 216

An anonymous reader shares a report: The Trump administration wants federal agencies to be able to track, hack, or even destroy drones that pose a threat to law enforcement and public safety operations, The New York Times reports. A proposed law, if passed by Congress, would let the government take down unmanned aircraft posing a danger to firefighting and search-and-rescue missions, prison operations, or "authorized protection of a person." The government will be required to respect "privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties" when exercising that power, the draft bill says. But records of anti-drone actions would be exempt from public disclosure under freedom of information laws, and people's right to sue over damaged and seized drones would be limited, according to the text of the proposal published by the Times. The administration, which would not comment on the proposal, scheduled a classified briefing on Wednesday for congressional staff members to discuss the issue.
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The Trump Administration Wants To Be Able To Track and Hack Your Drone

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  • Just try and fly a drone anywhere near someone with secret service protection. Watch what happens.

    Don't actually do this, you will end the day in jail.

  • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2017 @03:06PM (#54479551) Homepage

    Look, I loathe most everything that the Trump administration has done thus far, but as written, this doesn't sound too bad.

    If some moron is hindering fire-fighting operations with a drone, then yes, there should be ways to deal with it without having to worry about the drone owner threatening a lawsuit.

    Now, I object to to the records of such anti-drone activities being exempt from freedom of information laws.

    • Now, I object to to the records of such anti-drone activities being exempt from freedom of information laws.

      Why?

      Personally I'm fine with them developing capabilities to destroy drones and not telling me the technical details about how it works. I'm fine if they want to blast a drone out of the sky, just as long as they are not out using it on a whim and the destroyed drone is someplace it's not allowed, just make sure it's clear where I may and may not fly.

      If my device strays from the airspace it's permitted to be in, it's my fault it gets destroyed, assuming I had ample opportunity to know I wasn't allowed to

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Oh yeah, because super hackable drones that can be taken over by anyone at any time are a great idea. I mean no criminal hacker would hack that drone first, in mid air, secure it from hacking and then fly it at the head of the target, leaving the owner of the drone to blame and the incompetent police left looking like idiots. Why, oh, why, does it need to be explained to computer illiterate types why computers should not be super hackable, why back doors are a disaster waiting to happen (take note of two re

  • by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2017 @03:07PM (#54479567)
    Take down drones that endanger firefighting and prison operations, sure. The problems start when undefined weasel-words like "authorized protection of a person" are used and rights of citizens are curtailed or eliminated. Clandestine hearings and elimination of FOIA for the program do not help matters. You just don't need all that secrecy to take down a drone over a fire or prison.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      The problems start when undefined weasel-words

      This is really all you had to say.

      Like Stingray cell phone surveillance, the police (from FBI to local constabulary) wants the right to down and seize any drone, at any time, for reasons that will be kept from the public.

    • Take down drones that endanger firefighting and prison operations, sure. The problems start when undefined weasel-words like "authorized protection of a person" are used and rights of citizens are curtailed or eliminated.

      Yeah, and part of the reason this should be a concern is, I think firefighters and prisons already have some latitude to take action when lives are at risk or there's a serious security problem. If a firefighter breaks a window to rescue someone, I don't think they get charged with destruction of private property. If prison guards damage a helicopter that someone tries to land in a prison yard without approval, I doubt they'd be in legal trouble. Admittedly I'm not a lawyer, but I doubt that they've both

  • We know full well how much the PGOTUS respects these things.

    • >We know full well how much the PGOTUS respects these things.

      Yep, just about as much as the previous president and the several ones before him.

  • I don't think leaving a hack-able vulnerability is a good idea but sure why not use something like a T-shirt Canon that shoots a Net? It wouldn't be that difficult to shoot down a consumer drone and fairly safe to do so. Instead of crippling everyone with restrictions, just shoot down or catch the folks who blatantly break the rules. You don't even really need to fine because drones are pretty expensive. The loss alone should teach someone a lesson.

    • The problem is what happens when you disable a drone - gravity tends to have a say in that.

      I agree that leaving a back door in place and hoping the bad guys don't copy the key is worse, but there IS a reason that net or HERF guns aren't immediately selected as the best option.

      There are companies working on anti-drone drones to do a 'capture and safely ground', and I believe at least one person was working on using trained birds (which do fine for the vast majority of consumer-grade drones).

      Which brings up a

      • Which brings up another issue... with the kind of payload most consumer drones are capable of lifting, they're just not a threat worth getting worked up about. There's plenty more damage you could do on the ground, a lot easily, if you were of a mind to do so.

        How heavy is a timer- or remotely-opened container with enough anthrax spores to infect a few city blocks?

      • Most consumer drones aren't too heavy and mostly plastic the latest DJI drone (Mavic Pro) is about 2.2lb or 1KG. It'll hurt but not likely to kill you. Also if it's close enough to shoot down, it's probably too close to venue or whatever the Drone is zipping around. Another option would be a directed microwave beam which would knock it out of the sky since it's not likely very well shielded. Adding a backdoor or hacking isn't likely the easiest way of doing it and besides, it wouldn't even affect home b

  • My first impression of this is that it's an out-of-band attack on the overall integrity of encryption technologies. So far as I know, drone control signals are encrypted; what they want, then, is a backdoor into the encryption used. If successful, that would create a precedent for creating 'backdoors' in any encryption method ("..well, drone manufacturers were willing and able to comply with this law, so you have to, too, Apple/Google/$WHOEVER"). As much as I hate drones as a general concept, this cannot be
    • So far as I know, drone control signals are encrypted;

      So then, you don't know.

  • There be something like a secondary receiver built into all drones, that when it receives the appropriate signal, causes the drone to descend and land safely, or perhaps return to it's point of origin. In law enforcement, firefighting, or other emergency situations, the signal could be broadcast in the affected area, thus acting as a 'drone repellant'. Once it's landed, the drone would remain in a 'disabled' state, unable to launch, until such time as the disable signal ceases to be broadcast. Disabling the
    • There be something like a secondary receiver built into all drones, that when it receives the appropriate signal, causes the drone to descend and land safely

      Your ignorance of the preponderance of UAV aircraft is showing. That requires a flight computer with navigation capabilities, GPS, magnetometer, and barometer along with firmware for such. Most drones are not equipped with such. Many flight controllers are open source, The most popular firmwares available are open source. Open source devs tend to frown on such government intrusion. Just because you hate a piece of technology or are ignorant to it doesn't mean the government should have a backdoor into

  • Just ban them. They serve no purpose except for spying on people's daughters sunbathing by the pool, based on the comments I see on Slashdot.
    • Just ban them. They serve no purpose except for spying on people's daughters sunbathing by the pool, based on the comments I see on Slashdot.

      That's a pretty important purpose. Say hi to your daughter for me.

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 24, 2017 @03:42PM (#54479875)

    When all the weasel words are taken into account, it quickly becomes obvious that this means, "Drones making video of police beating or killing civilians will be taken down, and you can try to get the wreckage back by talking to one of our tame judges."

    • Don't you think at this stage of the game the number of people who have smartphones and can livestream video from anywhere at any time (thus not capable of being confiscated) is hundreds of thousands of (millions? tens of millions?) times more than the number of people who have drones?

      I stand by what I said before: this is actually an attack on encryption in general. Get drone manufacturers to put backdoors in their drone control signal encryption, and you have legal precedent to make everyone else do th
      • I stand by what I said before: this is actually an attack on encryption in general.

        Since it has nothing to do with encryption, no, it is not an attack on encryption.

        Get drone manufacturers to put backdoors in their drone control signal encryption,

        Who needs a backdoor?

      • I don't disagree with you, but I don't think you're seeing the whole picture, either. Jamming WiFi and cell service is ridiculously easy, as is denying close access to a situation. What kind of video can your cell phone get from ground level and 200 yards back? Cell phone jammers exist, and if you don't think the authorities would use them...well, I don't think for a moment you're that naive.

        Don't ever make the mistake of believing people engaged in a massive power grab have only a single objective when

  • Sure you could probably require DJI or Gopro to include an over-ride command in their code. But how would you enforce this on an ardupilot controlled drone? Building a large scale camera platform based on a naza or ardupilot is pretty easy.

    And that completely ignores all the micro racing quad flight controllers which run betaflight or KISS. Neither of those have GPS or stabilized flight systems. So you could jam the 2.4g band to take out its control signal but then you are taking out a lot more than jus

  • The Trump administration wants federal agencies to be able to track, hack, or even destroy drones...

    Okay, now I know that they *say* that they want to do this when a drone is posing a threat to public safety or to rescue operations, and that much is all very well and good. So let's give them the benefit of the doubt on this for just a minute here, and assume that was really all they were ever going to do and it wouldn't be abused.... Ignore for just a moment how unlikely you might think that is and just

  • MSM wants to blame Trump for a cloudy day.

    They have been wanting to register drones for a few years now.

    • Did you bother to read this? or is it your knee-jerk reaction to be a Trump apologist? This is not about registering drones. This is about putting a backdoor on the computers that control drones in order to allow the government access to those vehicles.

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