SCHUMER: SMALL DRONES ARE NOW PEERING INTO PEOPLE’S HOMES & OFFICES THROUGHOUT NYC, COULD THREATEN SAFETY AND PRIVACY– SENATOR ASKS FAA & SOON-TO-BE EMPOWERED COMMERCE DEPT TO QUICKLY RELEASE GUIDELINES BY END OF 2014 & MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE BAN ON DRONES USED BY DRUG DEALERS & PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS TO SPY ON UNAWARE PARTIES
Schumer Says that the FAA & Commerce Dept. – Which is Expected to Be Charged With Developing Drone Privacy Guidelines – Must Act Quickly in 2014 & Provide Protections for Privacy and Physical Safety of NYC Residents; Hobby & Commercial Drone Usage Has Drastically Increased in Recent Months Following a Court Case Limiting the FAA’s Ability to Regulate
Schumer Said that Drone Technology Has Huge Potential, However the Boost in Use By Private Investigators to Spy on Unaware New Yorkers, Use By Dealers to Deliver Illegal Drugs & Recent Incident When Drone Interfered with an NYPD Helicopter Demonstrate the Need for Quick Rules from the FAA & Commerce
Schumer: NYC Has Become Wild, Wild West for Hobby & Commercial Drones
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Commerce Department to quickly develop and release privacy rules and guidelines for the use of small unmanned aircraft systems by the end of 2014. Schumer took particular concern with the use of drones among private investigators spying on unaware parties, use by drug dealers to deliver illegal drugs and serious public safety concerns, like the recent incident when a drone interfered with an NYPD helicopter. Drones are used by the U.S. to aid in military operations and are increasingly being used for commercial purposes. Schumer said that while there are innumerable benefits to this technology, there are also consequences that create privacy and safety concerns for the general public, particularly given that the FAA has not yet released clear rules for the definition and appropriate use of commercial and hobby drones. Schumer said that the federal government’s lack of clear rules on the use of small, non-military drones has led to confusion, abuses and dangerous situations, particularly in urban areas like New York City; in July, a drone nearly collided with an NYPD helicopter, drones have been used to spy on individuals by Private Investigators, and it is reported that drones are being used by drug dealers. Schumer today is urging the FAA to expedite their rule-making on small drones and to clearly distinguish between hobby and commercial drones, and the legal and illegal uses for each. Schumer is also pushing the soon-to-be empowered Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), under an anticipated executive order by President Obama, to prioritize privacy in their guidelines for drone data collection and storage.
“New York City has become the wild, wild west for commercial and hobby drones, and until clear, smart regulations are put in place by the federal government, they will continue to threaten the privacy and safety of New Yorkers,” said Schumer. “More and more, small drones are being used by Private Investigators to spy on unaware New Yorkers or for illegal purposes like drug deliveries, and the lack of clear rules from the FAA holds a great deal of the blame for confusion as to what is legal, and the blatant abuses of this great technology. I’m urging the FAA and the soon-to-be empowered Commerce Department to develop and release much-needed regulations about small drones, along with specific privacy protections, by the end of this year, which must include a ban on drones used by private investigators and drug dealers. It is also critical there be strict penalties for the dangerous use of hobby drones, like the recent near-miss of an NYPD helicopter and one of these devices in July. There is no time to waste in getting clear rules on the books so that this technology can continue to create important advancements without threatening our quality of life and safety.”
Drones are unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that fall under three categories denoted by the Federal Aviation Authority: civil, public and model aircraft. The public unmanned aircraft systems are used by government agencies, law enforcement agencies and research institutions to aid in their operations. They are an incredibly important technology, and are helpful in collecting data, aiding with border patrol operations, agriculture, training the military and more. The civil unmanned aircraft systems and the model aircraft systems provide opportunities for civilians to use drones recreationally and for commercial purposes. Schumer supports the use of drones under all of these categories, but said that there must be clear limits to their usage when privacy and safety are threatened. Traditionally, drones were used to aid in military operations overseas. Drones have allowed the military to obtain information without putting American civilians in danger. Technological improvements have led private companies and individuals to purchase drones for prices as low as $500. According to the FAA, small drones should not be flown higher than 400 feet or close to airports and densely populated areas.
Drones have commercial applications that make them useful in terms of agricultural development, law enforcement, disaster relief, real estate sales and search and rescue missions. Specifically, drones can help farmers monitor their crops more effectively and may help realtors sell real estate by providing better photographs of for-sale properties. Drones can also be used to help firefighters spot wildfires and aid in search and rescue missions by locating missing individuals. Schumer said that there are innumerable benefits to drone technology, however, there are also consequences to the lack of regulation.
According to the Washington Post, there have been 15 cases of drones flying too close to airports in the last two years. Since 2009, there have been 23 accidents and 236 incidents deemed “unsafe” by the FAA, in which registered civilian drones were involved. In many cases, the drones are too small and cannot be clearly identified on an airplane’s radar system.
This problem has led to quite a few close calls in New York City. According to the Washington Post, this past May an pilot flying into LaGuardia Airport spotted a drone at 5,500 feet in the air. In March of 2014, a drone flying in Brooklyn hit two buildings and nearly hit a pedestrian in Manhattan. Most recently, this past July, a drone almost collided with an NYPD helicopter over the George Washington Bridge. Schumer today said that as this technology becomes even more popular, it creates an even larger cause for concern in terms of airline and pedestrian safety. Schumer explained that the FAA should make it clear whether hobby drones can be regulated, and how.
There has been a recent boost in the use of drones for commercial use. Recently, the New York Post reported that private investigators have been using drones to spy on partners cheating on each other, individuals lying about disabilities and individuals involved in criminal activities. Media reports have also pointed to drones being used for drug deliveries. Recently, it was also reported that a drone was being used to fly marijuana and cell phones into a South Carolina maximum-security prison; the drone crashed and the materials never made it on-site.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act was passed in 2012 and established “a special rule for model aircraft.” A model aircraft is defined as an unmanned aircraft flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft and flown for recreational or hobby purposes. This law prohibits the FAA from promulgating rules for model aircraft that meet the following criteria: flown strictly for hobby and recreational use; operated within a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization; weighs 55 pounds or less; not interfere with manned aircraft; the operator receives permission from the airport operator and control tower if the device is being flown within five miles of an airport. The FAA may take action if the model aircraft is operated in a way that endangers the national airspace. There have been concerns, however, about the distinction between commercial and hobby drones, and the FAA has yet to issue a rule for commercial drones. In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress said the FAA should come up with a plan for safe integration of drones by September 2015. A recent inspector general’s report suggests the FAA may not meet this deadline.
Earlier this year, a federal judge dismissed the FAA’s case against Pirker, an individual flying a commercial drone at the University of Virginia. They attempted to fine Pirker $10,000 for flying the drone for commercial purposes. Pirker claimed the FAA did not have the authority to regulate drones because of a 2007 FAA policy notice that excludes model aircraft from its scope of regulation. The judge agreed and ruled that Pirker’s claim was valid, however the FAA has appealed. As a result, it is currently unclear what types drones fall under the definition of a model aircraft that the FAA does not have the ability to regulate and what is considered using a drone for commercial purposes.
Recently it was reported that President Obama will issue an executive order to have the Commerce Department develop guidelines and best practices for commercial drones. The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would work with the industry to develop guidelines focused on privacy and best practices while the FAA would issue rules about integrating drones into national airspace.
Schumer today urged the FAA and the Commerce Department to release rules and guidelines on small commercial drones by the end of 2014. The FAA is charged with developing general, binding rules for integrating drones into the national airspace, while the Commerce Department’s NTIA is expected to be ordered to issue guidelines and best practices for drone usage and data collection and storage. Schumer is specifically pushing for a ban on drones used by private investigator to spy on unaware parties.
National Cryptologic Museum Pulling Out All Stops
For Armed Forces Day
Fort Meade, MD—Last year, 1,000 people attended the National Cryptologic Museum’s (NCM) Open House when it featured its first ever outdoor concert. This year, the Armed Forces Day Celebration promises to be bigger with something for everyone young and old.
The Armed Forces Day Celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 17. U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, and the Central Security Service will join with the Fort Meade Garrison to provide activities outside and inside the museum.
Outside activities will include the U.S. Naval Academy’s dixieland band, the Crabtowne Stompers, known for their musical ingenuity and unique musical talents. Visitors will also see Civil War reenactors demonstrate flag signaling “in the clear” and in code. The Civil Air Patrol will let visitors try their piloting skills on a flight simulator. At another table, the NSA K-9 Police unit will talk about their K-9 partners and give demonstrations. Meanwhile, the Ft. Meade’s Wounded Warrior unit will let visitors try fly tying and casting.
Kids and parents can get their faces painted in camouflage and then “dress for combat” by donning body armor. Also, military recruiters will have give-aways for people of all ages! Along the way, stop by the Sea Cadets’ table to create cards and letters for deployed troops. And while trekking the different activities, kids can get their Cryptologic Passport stamped (and get autographs from military servicemembers) for a prize at the end! Plans to get more military displays are also being coordinated.
Inside the museum, visitors can participate on tours starting every 30 minutes and see hourly presentations on the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, get a peek at rarely seen cryptologic artifacts, and have the opportunity to meet members of the Armed Forces and hear them talk about what it’s like to serve our nation in uniform and describe what they do.
Military members of the Central Security Service will provide hot dogs, burgers, and drinks. Ice cream will be available to cool off in what hopefully will be a warm spring day. As always, admission and parking are free.
The NCM is located off Exit 10A on Maryland Route 32 near the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (I-295), adjacent to the National Security Agency headquarters. For more information on the museum, tours, educational programs, and hours and days of operation, go to www.nsa.gov. Also visit the museum’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/NationalCryptologicMuseum to learn more about this event.
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a statement following the House Judiciary Committee’s approval of a modified version of the USA FREEDOM Act, legislation that would end bulk data collection. Blumenthal is an original cosponsor of the bill introduced in the Senate last fall.
“The House Judiciary Committee’s action today is a crucial step in the right direction. However, it is not enough. This legislation makes important changes to some of the statutes that have allowed massive and widespread violations of Americans’ privacy, but it does not reform the underlying system that made those violations possible—a system in which secret courts make secret law without the benefit of hearing both sides of the argument. Real reform means turning the FISA courts into a real check on executive overreach by creating a Special Advocate who can represent the privacy rights of the American people. I will continue fighting to ensure that FISA reform ultimately includes a strong Special Advocate capable of holding the government accountable and protecting our privacy.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is asking the U.S. attorney general whether the Justice Department is planning any action on NASA inspector general findings on lax screening and control of foreign nationals’ access to U.S. technology at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. The inspector general report covers sensitive technology covered by International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations and the treatment of one individual who received access to sensitive materials, apparently without repercussion.
“The NASA IG’s report raises strong concerns around the ITAR controls and potentially compromised technology,” Grassley writes in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “The concerns regarding this investigation and the answers to the serious questions raised by these circumstances are more important than ever. While the decision to decline prosecution after a four-year investigation may rest with the U.S. Attorney in California, the public is entitled a better explanation than that, in light of the information presented in this IG report.”
One foreign national in particular was selected by Ames Research Center management to be a visiting scholar and then a contractor at the research center. Management said the foreign national was to be given “exceptional care” and “unescorted access 24/7” despite the fact that the foreign national had not passed basic security background checks, according to the inspector general report. The same foreign national worked on projects that the State Department declared were ITAR-related without an ITAR license for the next two years, the report said. The foreign national falsely claimed not to have transported a NASA laptop with ITAR-sensitive material outside of the United States, the report said.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California declined to prosecute any ITAR violations at the Ames Research Center. The reasons for declining the prosecution were not made public.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senators representing the Kansas City Animal Health corridor, Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have announced that the Senate approved a resolution to recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense to America’s national and economic security.
“The hardworking folks in America’s heartland understand that the protection of our region’s leading industry, agriculture, and of our nation’s food supply is of the highest importance,” Roberts said. “This resolution reminds our colleagues in Washington that addressing the critical vulnerabilities to our food supply and the agriculture economy must also be their top priority. Completion of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is critical to the nation and to our states.”
“NBAF will protect our national economy by researching foreign animal disease threats, which have very real impacts,” Moran said. “It is critical that construction begins immediately to safeguard against these threats and the devastation they would cause. The cost of an outbreak far outweighs the cost of construction, not only in the loss of human life but also its damage to the animal and agricultural industry. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to make certain NBAF remains a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration and among Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.”
“This resolution recognizes just how important biosecurity is to our country’s safety, and to the agriculture economy across the United States,” McCaskill said. “Strengthening our biosecurity starts with the completion of the facility in Manhattan, Kansas and continues with the further development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we accomplish these goals.”
“Further development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region is the next step in bolstering our nation’s biosecurity and agro-defense,” said Blunt. “Farm families in Missouri and nationwide understand the severity that these devastating attacks could have on our food supply, the agriculture industry, and our national security. I’m pleased this resolution was approved by the Senate, and I will continue to advocate for further development of the Animal Health Corridor as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.”
Text of the Resolution:
Recognizing the importance of biosecurity and agrodefense in the United States
Whereas following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States took notice of the global threat of terrorism;
Whereas the new reality after the attacks of September 11, 2011, led to an increase of resources focused on combatting attack from the enemies of the United States;
Whereas Congress established the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 with the intent of meeting the challenges plaguing the United States;
Whereas the attacks made visible the vulnerability of our food supply and agriculture economy;
Whereas the President of the United States issued a Homeland Security Directive entitled the “Defense of United States Agriculture and Food” on January 30, 2004;
Whereas the Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, recognized the challenges of agroterrorism early on;
Whereas the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism assessed in the 2008 report entitled “World At Risk”, “the U.S. government has invested most of its nonproliferation efforts and diplomatic capital in preventing nuclear terrorism. The Commission believes that it should make the more likely threat – bioterrorism – a higher priority. Only by elevating the priority of the biological weapons threat will it be possible to bring about substantial improvements in global biosecurity”;
Whereas the threat of attack from the enemies of the United States continues and there is much remaining work; and
Whereas the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility inaugurated construction on May 28, 2013;
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that
While the United States continues to combat terrorism in all forms around the world, the safety, security, and health of our livestock and agriculture commodities must not be forgotten;
Research and investment in biosecurity and biosafety should be supported by Congress;
Providing the resources, both intellectually and materially, for the advancement of vaccines and hopeful eradication of deadly pathogens and emerging zoonotic disease in an integral part of providing homeland defense;
Without the tools necessary to protect the people, agriculture economy, and food supply of the United States, the United States remains vulnerable to attack and chaos;
The world depends on the food and fiber that the United States produces;
The world depends on the leadership of the United States in science and technology;
The United States must remain the leader in the fight against bioterrorism; and
Biosecurity and agrodefense are achievable goals for the United States in the global war on terrorism.