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Government authorities can now shoot down privately owned drones

A provision in the FAA Reauthorization Act allows government officials to shoot down drones they deem a threat.

James Martin/CNET

President Donald Trump signed on Friday the Re-authorization Act for the Federal Aviation Authority, a law that contains a provision allowing government authorities to shoot down privately owned drones deemed a threat.

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The provision, called "Preventing Emerging Threats," states that "personnel with assigned duties that include the security or protection of people, facilities, or assets" can disrupt, control, disable, intercept, interfere with, seize and exercise control of the drone. They also can damage or destroy the "unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft" if need be. 

The broad-strokes interpretation of the provision has provoked dispute, particularly among journalists, filmmakers and activists, who use drones to gather video recordings. The provision isn't limited to military or police personnel, meaning officials from any government department can take down a drone. 

The FAA didn't immediately reply for a request to comment.

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