US authorities bid to expand drone disablement powers

President Biden and other US authorities want to expand drone detection and disablement powers in light of the threats posed to mass crowd events and airports.
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The Biden administration is bidding to extend the current drone detection and disablement powers that are due to expire this year, and has found support among lawmakers and major American sports organisations to do so.

In a report by Reuters, the administration sees the threat of privately-manned drones to the functioning of airports and locations with mass crowds, such as sporting events.

According to a Department of Homeland Security official quoted in the report, "Since 2019, drone incidents have caused US airports to fully halt operations three times, and in 2021, over 30 partial suspensions of operations--resulting in millions of dollars of economic damage."

In 2018, the US Congress expanded authority to the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to destroy or disable threatening drones. Those permissions expire in October 2021. However, the Biden White House is requesting that this power is not only extended, but also expanded to include the US administration facilities to protect airports.

The lawmakers have found support from the major sporting institutions of the country, including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and NASCAR racing.

NFL's annual Super Bowl tournament, among the most viewed TV events of the year in America, has to be protected by the government's anti-drone work. According to the Reuters report, the FBI has had to conduct 70 drone and counter-drone operations at large events such as the Super Bowl since 2018.

Edited by Megha Reddy