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Old 05-20-2017, 06:40 PM #1
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Default Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Not a troll thread, I swear. Would it be illegal to hit a drone with a high powered laser? I have no idea and was wondering about this. Is it only illegal to target manned aircraft, or unmanned as well? I'm not talking about military drones or anything. I'm talking about those annoying personal drones that people have buzzing all around lately.


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Old 05-20-2017, 07:02 PM #2
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

I heard of a man getting arrested for shot gunning one out of the sky that kept spying on him, so probably is, if destruction of property. Edit: Oh, I have an idea, find out what frequency they commonly are controlled on and jam it. Much more difficult to prove who did what, but I suppose many of them will just auto land or something, too bad they just don't crash.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:02 PM #3
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

According to the FAA you must put aircraft numbers registered to the owner on any drone over 250 grams, but the operator is also required to maintain line of sight rather than flying by FPV, still I would not take a chance, police and fire agencies as well as others will be using not only large but also micro drones, in short I would not chance it, any video of you shining a laser past even a private drone could spell trouble and you could be charged with destruction of property.

If there is a drone bothering you at your home call the police, but maybe look for the kids flying it and talk to them first, give them a chance, if the problem persists then build a case, take video to show the police, if you are being wronged and they are breaking the law point a camera at it, not a weapon or a laser, not even a garden hose unless the drone is threatening your immediate safety.

p.s. If you point a video camera or your cell phone at the drone and the operator knows they are harassing you they will likely stop, if they are just flying by unaware of you then you may not have any right to complain, but local laws differ, however just remember it's the guy using force who is put on the defensive when the cops show up.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:07 PM #4
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Thanks for the responses. Honestly I'm not having a problem with drones. This was just a random thought that came into my mind about "What if" you were having trouble with drones.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:33 PM #5
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

RF Jam them, they will think their drone failed.
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Old 05-20-2017, 08:49 PM #6
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

I fly and build drones, i am not aware of any laws regarding pointing a laser at a drone! About the best you could hope to accomplish with doing this, would be to disrupt or disable a camera sensor! Unless you were to use a military grade laser, your handheld would have no effect on a moving drone! I think this is a bit of a gray area as far as the law goes, your best to just not do it!
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:03 PM #7
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Many of these drones will land if they are out of range of the operator. That being the case, I doubt that RF jamming would do anything more than cause it to land.
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:12 PM #8
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Solves the problem
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:24 PM #9
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

And it's better than a homemade HERF gun that fries your neighbors PC's along with that drones board.
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:29 PM #10
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

HERF would be far more fun though.
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:38 PM #11
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razako View Post
Would it be illegal to hit a drone with a high powered laser? I have no idea and was wondering about this.
RedCowboy's advice is spot on.

Also, you won't have much of an impact to the drone's camera by shining a high powered laser at it unless it's stationary and you're close to it.
Believe me, it's much harder than you think to target a moving drone with a laser and even a 1w 520nm looks dim at a distance to a drone's camera.

Best advice is what Red said, call the Police.
If you're seen as the aggressor well.... you know.
And it may be a bit difficult explaining and convincing the authorities your real motivations why you shone a high powered laser at a drone.
They may think you're a serial offender with other aircraft too.

Anyway, just my thoughts as a drone user.

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Old 05-21-2017, 12:45 AM #12
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

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RF Jam them, they will think their drone failed.
The problem is that doing is so is highly illegal.

Drones are controlled via ISM band frequencies usually, and you are not allowed to use high power equipment in these bands, most certainly not to interfere purposely with another user.

There has been a case where someone shot down a drone using an air rifle in the netherlands. To make things clear, owning an air rifle is perfectly legal here, whereas a firearm is not unless you have a permit for it and even then you cannot run around with a loaded firearm. Air rifles are to the law basically the same a throwing stones and sticks as long as they do not resemble firearms.

So what happened is that somone shot down a drone operated by a neighbour, carrying a filming camera, that was flying on their property.

The ruling was basically that both invasion of privacy by using the drone to film, and shooting it down with the air rifle, were illegitimate acts. In this case the drone pilot sued to get the repair cost from the air rifle yielding neighbour, but without success: the drone pilot failed to make the costs feasible, and was also prohibit from flying over the defendants property ever again at a 250 euro fine for each time he did anyway.

This is in the netherlands though and would probably apply to most of europe, but not the US per se.

Major factor in this was invasion of privacy though, just flying over someones property at decent altitude would not be an invasion of privacy, certainly not if you're not filming - a live bvideo stream from navigational purposes that is not stored would probably be okay to some degree.
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:30 AM #13
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Never said legal, but local or state police have no jurisdiction in the US regarding FCC regulations, however the FCC certainly could come after you but their not being there to see you do the deed not at all likely they could do much, if they knew who and where you are, at worst they would take away your jamming toy for not being licensed or type accepted but they would have to find you, know who you are and an isolated incident is simply not worth their time, more than that, one guy RF jamming drones flying around their home isn't worth their time either, even if done many times.

If you jammed a drone, the best thing for you to do would be to keep quiet, don't tell a soul, that is where the issue gets outside of the FCC's arm. They have few employees working in field regulation, I mean tiny, most states don't have a FCC field office so they aren't there to catch you. If you are not causing damage to the drone when jammed, just causing it to land, illegal by FCC rules or not, no other agency will be brought into it. Of course law officers overreach their legal ability to regulate all the time, thats when lawyers get involved and when $$$ comes out of your pocket, but as I said, do it, stay quiet and 99.999 percent chance no one will have a clue. Go to a drone flying event and start causing trouble, that raises the odds quite a bit and you could simply be charged with disturbing the peace and it would stick, but I still think anyone could do that and likely get away with some, start repeating it and the odds drop, cause a drone to drop on someones head and now you have a very bad situation.

Disclaimer: This post was for entertainment as a what if, what is likely, not a suggestion anyone should break the law. I cannot morally, ethically or legally suggest breaking any law. Regarding the FCC, I am a former FCC field officer
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:30 AM #14
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

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Originally Posted by Alaskan View Post
... I suppose many of them will just auto land or something, too bad they just don't crash.
It is good IMO. Imagine falling drone weighting several kg/pounds from high altitude. This might even kill somebody on ground. It is not drone, but the person controlling it bothering you.

To the topic: I think it is quite tricky question in general - depending if there is solid legislation already. It depends how you prove who did what and what was the consequences. I can imagine situation when drone is spying you on your land at low alt. So you can easy laser it. Nobody reasonable will take it to the court...
On the other hand I can imagine even some guy shining laser on passing drones around without them having particular interest in him - here it is different story.
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:58 AM #15
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

Ya, well, you painted a different picture than I was thinking of with a big heavy drone in an area where someone could get hurt, of course for that circumstance you are correct. My thought was about jamming the little toys pestering you on your own property but even then they would have to be in an area where no harm could come to someone and far away from the operator. You must have some common sense about what you are doing, even if in the wrong, not to cause harm to anyone. Who in their right mind would jam a big heavy drone in an area which could result in someone getting harmed? Crazy I know, I suppose their are some folk who would do that.
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Old 05-21-2017, 06:07 AM #16
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Default Re: Is it illegal to target drones with lasers?

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Originally Posted by Alaskan View Post
Ya, well, I hope you didn't think I intended that to happen, they would have to be in an area where no harm could come to someone, if they were flying around my property in Alaska where I have acres of land, I could very well jam them and cause them to either land, or worse case crash without harm to anyone. You must have some common sense about what you are doing, even if in the wrong, not to cause harm to anyone.
I'm sure you didn't inteded to happen that, Alaskan. That would not be typical for you. I just had to react and was talking about the useful algorithm for autolanding they are supposed to have.

Still in a remote area you might use shotgun to put it down completely, no need to mess with laser or jammer.
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