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Senators alarmed over potential Chinese drone spy threat

The bill also calls for creating a database of “security-related” incidents involving unmanned aerial systems inside the U.S.

Some of the provisions have sparked concerns among privacy groups, which worry that a nationwide drone tracking system could infringe upon First Amendment rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union for example, has argued that “such a system threatens to erase any possibility of anonymous operation of drones so that, for example, an activist wishing to record corporate malfeasance or police actions at a protest might be targeted after the fact, or chilled before it.”

But even some of the federal government’s current authorities to counter drones are set to expire next month and the Biden administration is urging Congress to quickly restore them.

“We have located hundreds of drones that have been acting in violation of federal law each time, and as the threat continues to grow, we’re investigating even as we speak several incidents, even within the U.S., of attempts to weaponize drones with homemade [improvised explosive devices],” FBI Director Christopher Wray told Peters’ committee on Nov. 17.

“That is the future that is here now, and this authority desperately needs to be reauthorized.”

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