How to Legally Take Down a Drone?

Many people have seen drones flying over their yards or properties. It can be scary and annoying, especially if you value your privacy. And who doesn’t? 

While sometimes it could be kids having fun with their drones, it could also be adults unaware of their drone use limits. 

Or those who want to cross your borders intentionally.

In such a case, can you take the drone down? You can! However, you must know how to legally take down a drone to avoid being sued.  

So, what do you do when you notice that a drone is spying on you? 

  • File a legal complaint
  • Use trained birds
  • Use net guns
  • Cyber takeover systems

In this article, you will learn how drones can be taken down, your limits, and more. 

How to Legally Take Down a Drone?

Just like there are laws protecting your rights, there are also laws governing drone use.

So, drone users understand the limits of flying their drones above your property or other illegal areas. 

Civil aviation agencies, the state, and the local authorities are very clear on drone use laws, and anyone who does not abide by the given laws is subject to a fine or imprisonment. 

So, the law allows you to take some legal actions against drones that:

  • The drone puts your life and others at risk
  • Violate your privacy by, for example, recording a video of your children or spouse.
  • The pilot is using his drone to commit a burglary offense
  • The controller is using his drone to invade your home/private property 

However, each country and state has a different set of laws. Hence, you must first check whether the law considers the above violations or not.  

Below, I’ll discuss how to legally take down a drone. 

File a Legal Complaint

The first thing you want to do is to file a complaint if drones are not allowed to fly over private property in your state. 

You must have evidence of the drone flying above your property. So, first, document everything.

Record a video of the drone causing a nuisance by flying over your roof or yard. Also, take photos and capture vital information to prove that it’s the drone in question. 

If the photos and videos prove that the drone owner has violated your privacy by flying over your property, he could be fined or jailed. 

Use Trained Birds

Trained birds could be effective in taking down a drone. 

This is a great option in areas where drone users have a habit of spying on people or using their drones for other criminal activities. 

You must, however, understand several things: Interfering with the drone’s operations could cause you to be sued.

Also, if the bird misses the drone and makes it crash, you may be sued for property damage.

Though training birds can be effective, it could also be expensive. Besides, it could take a while before the birds master the required skills for this task.

Use Net Guns

Drone nets can stop drones that have become a threat to you. These nets have been used to protect government buildings, airports, public events, prisons, schools, and military bases against spying drones. 

Drone nets are physical countermeasures that entangle the drone mid-air, making its propellers unable to rotate. Consequently, the drone goes down.

Based on the drone type, it could feature a built-in parachute that takes down the drone in a controlled manner to ensure it doesn’t crash or hurt anyone. 

On the other hand, drone net guns are better because they cover a wider range. 

Cyber Takeover Systems

Cyber takeover systems detect the radio frequency transmissions that drones emit. In addition, they detect the serial number of the drone in question and identify where the controller is located. This technology was developed recently, and it uses AI.

Using cyber takeover systems, you can send signals to the drone to hack it, take complete control of it, and direct it elsewhere, away from your property.

Sadly, this technology may be less effective on state-developed and homemade drones.

On the other hand, you could also be sued for hacking drones or halting their operations. 

Therefore, check your limits before you get into trouble by using cyber takeover systems.

Can You Be Sued for Taking Down a Drone?

Yes, you may be sued for taking down a drone. Why? You don’t have any authority over the airspace above your private property; the civil aviation agency does.

Most drone users understand this and could probably take advantage of that and fly their drones above your home. 

In addition, many laws govern drone use, including Federal, local, state, and civil laws.

So, one mistake, such as spoofing, jamming, or shooting the drone, could land you in a regrettable situation.  

Below are some of the actions you should never attempt when trying to take down a drone. 

Don’t Use High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices

Using High-power Microwave devices could lead you into trouble with the authorities. Let me explain. This technology interferes with the radio links. 

Not only do EMP devices disrupt drones, but they also disrupt other electronic devices within their range.

The HPM devices may also destroy drones’ electronic circuitry due to their damaging voltage and the currents they create.  

High-power microwave devices are proven effective, but you must check the local, civil, state, and Federal laws before using them against any life-threatening drone. 

This is because the HPM devices could interfere with communication between the controller and the drone.

As a result, it suddenly switches off, thereby cashing, which could cause injury to people nearby. Or, it could crash and get destroyed, and you could be sued for that. 

Don’t Use Drone Jamming Technology

Communication between drones and their pilots is done through radio waves. On the other hand, Jammers emit signals using the same drone frequency. 

So, when you use jamming technology, communication between the pilot and his drone is cut off. The drone could use the GPS to ‘Return to Home’ or land right there.

According to Federal laws, you should never use jamming equipment to block authorized radio communication, including that of drones and their operators. 

So, you could be jailed or fined for using jamming technology to take down a drone. 

Avoid Spoofing

Like jamming, you could find yourself in trouble with the authorities for spoofing drones.

Spoofing disrupts communication between the drone and its pilot by sending a false signal to confuse the receiver satellite. 

Hardware or software is used to spoof the signals used by the pilot to communicate with his drone.

Consequently, the spoofer takes full charge of the drone and may view the drone camera feed or access vital data.

Never Shoot a Drone

According to Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Code 32, shooting an aircraft is unlawful. A drone is classified as an aircraft. 

Therefore, even if the drone is violating your rights, don’t shoot it, especially if you’re in the U.S. 

According to local laws, shooting someone’s drone is considered as destruction of another person’s property.

On the other hand, the FAA considers shooting another person’s drone as interference in flight operations. 

So, you could be subjecting yourself to hefty fines or a jail term. 

Why? As mentioned earlier, the airspace belongs to the FAA’s jurisdiction, not you (homeowner). That’s why you cannot shoot down a drone because it is flying over your private property. 

However, if the drone poses a threat to you and your family, you can take other legal actions but not shoot it. 

For example, you can politely ask the drone owner to stop flying above your property or document the drone flying above your property and report it to the local authorities. 

Don’t Use Lasers

The FAA and some state laws prohibit using lasers to take down drones. Why? Lasers interfere with the communication of the drone with its pilots. 

Hence, the drone could easily crash and injure people or destroy property. 

Besides, you could be accused of damaging the pilot’s property if it crashes. Not to mention, drones, according to the FAA, fall under aircraft.

You should never interfere with their operations. Doing so would lead you to mass problems. 

Therefore, you should never use lasers to bring down drones. If you notice that they’re violating your rights or threatening your life, call the authorities so that they can legally deal with the pilot. 

Now that you know what to do and what not to do when taking a drone down, is there a technology that can help you counter drones safely and legally? 

Indeed, there is.

Use Counter Drone Technology to Detect Spying Drones

It’s frustrating to see a drone flying above your property with nothing more to do other than helplessly watching it record videos or take photos.

Overcoming the temptations of shooting down such a drone can be challenging. That is why counter-drone technology is important. 

Counter-drone technology allows a homeowner to detect, identify, and mitigate drones.

Drone detection technology can help you take the necessary steps to evade an incoming drone.

For example, you could ask the kids to go inside the house to avoid being recorded by strangers while playing or swimming outside. 

Sadly, drone detection technology may not be as effective because it may also detect birds sometimes. 

Hence, when looking for a counter-drone technology, consider one that can also classify drones.

Drone classification technology is essential because it helps to distinguish between birds, planes, automobiles, trains, and drones. Therefore, there won’t be any chance of confusion.

A counter-drone technology that can also identify the type of drone is even better and more useful.

This technology may be essential, especially if the drone has violated your rights and you want to prosecute it.

It becomes easy to do so because you also have the drone model and can (sometimes) identify the pilot’s digital fingerprint. 

Parting Shot

You can use trained birds and net guns to take down a drone without hurting anyone or crashing it. 

Nevertheless, each state is different and is governed by different laws; therefore, when looking for ways to take down a drone, check the laws first.

Avoid doing anything damaging another person’s property or interfering with aircraft operations. 

Depending on where you live, drone shooting, lasers, jammers, high-power microwave devices, or spoofing drones may be illegal. 

Even so, a drone equipped with a weapon is a threat, and you can take legal action against such a drone to defend yourself. 

In such cases, or if the drone becomes a nuisance, politely tell the owner to stop flying the drone above your property. If the pilot does not stop, document the drone movements before engaging the authorities.

Author
Peter Karanja

Peter is a licensed drone pilot and drone fanatic. He owns a DJI Air 2S that he uses to shoot videos for fun, enjoyment and for clients.

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