New proposed CA drone laws may have unintended consequences. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called upon drone enthusiasts to protest two new proposed CA laws which they say would criminalize popular drone games.
At the recent Bay Area Maker Faire – “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new,” say the organizers – drone enthusiasts who had built customized recreational drones engaged in using new weapons in an ancient sport. Hobbyists engaged in a type of gladiator combat, pitting the drones against one another in controlled aerial battle. But two new bills currently before the CA legislature could prevent what the foundation calls “drone combat sports,” by indiscriminately criminalizing armed drones.
A.B. 1820 is part of what makes California the worst state for drones; it is a broad and severely limiting law curtailing commercial drone activities. Among it’s many provisions, it prohibits makers from creating drones armed with weapons or any device that could cause damage to property. S.B. 868 is an amendment to the penal code, which would subject offenders of the above to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
While at first glance, the idea of a “weaponized drone” seems like an obviously poor one that should be prevented, the bills have not undergone enough thorough consideration to allow for the recreational aspects of “drone combat sports.” The Aerial Sports League’s competitions (formerly “Game of Drones”), are exciting battles in which drone operators battle (in safe, netted arenas) trying to knock each other’s drone out of the air with basic – but creative – weapons. While the battles provide no danger – and are arguably less dangerous to people than other combat sports like drag racing – they would be prohibited under the proposed laws, eliminating a new sport and a safe, creative, STEM-based activity.
You can “defend drone dogfights” by adding your voice here at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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