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What it does 

HR 6438 amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Department of Homeland Security to establish a coordinator for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Specific duties of the Coordinator will include:

  • Organize efforts within the Department of Homeland Security to develop plans and policies to counteract terrorist attacks involving UAS;
  • Promote research and distribution of UAS threat countermeasures;
  • Serve as the Department’s point of contact for all inquiries regarding countering UAS attacks; and
  • Carry out miscellaneous activities related to UAS, as needed by the Department.

Beyond these duties, the Department’s Coordinator for UAS would also be responsible for collaborating with various applicable offices throughout the government to investigate how the Department’s efforts to counter UAS are done so lawfully. The Coordinator will also work with the Department’s Office of Partnership and Engagement and other relevant offices to share critical counter UAS measures with private sector UAS operators and mitigate any impacts to lawfully operated UAS

Relevant Science 

While older radio-controlled aircraft and vehicles have posed a risk as potential weapons for many years, the technology was difficult to learn, and it took time, skill, and patience to build and operate. These challenges imposed some limits on their broader use. Modern control technology has made commercial unmanned vehicles and aircraft far easier to operate.

With respect to UAS, since 2015, the increased availability of commercial drones has led to increases in sales and public acceptance. For example, according to a poll from Saint Leo University, 72% of adults support using drones for community policing. The FAA projects growth in annual UAS sales from $1.9 million in 2016 to $4.3 million by 2020.

The use of commercial UAS as weapons has already become an issue in other countries. In 2014, the Islamic State (IS) began using commercial drones to make propaganda films and later used drones as scouts. The IS has also fit explosive charges to UASs to make inexpensive guided missiles. Concerns have also been raised about domestic attacks using commercial UASs.

Status 

Bill HR 6438 was first introduced in the House on July 19, 2018 and subsequently referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Sponsors 

Sponsor: Representative Scott Perry (R-PA-4)

Cosponsors:

Primary Author 
Scott "Esko" Brummel, MA ; Victoria Chibuogu Nneji, PhD Candidate
Recommended Citation 

Duke SciPol, “To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish in the Department of Homeland Security an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator, and for other purposes. (HR 6438, 115th Congress)” available at http://scipol.duke.edu/content/first-look-amend-homeland-security-act-2002-establish-department-homeland-security-unmanned#overlay-context=content/first-look-amend-homeland-security-act-2002-establish-department-homeland-security-unmanned (07/31/2018).

License 
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please distribute widely but give credit to Duke SciPol, linking back to this page if possible.