Drone and Counter Drone Legal Challenges

The below information is provided as a guide only as legislation in each State of Australia can vary as can the impacts of Federal legislation. Australia is not alone as there are legal challenges worldwide.

Drone Detection

  • The use of a drone detection device could be considered a ‘data surveillance device’ and it may be a criminal offence to use one without authority.  Possible Offences:  Use data surveillance device
  • If a detection device can also access information held on the drone or the drone controller (computers by definition) it could be considered computer hacking.  Possible Offence: Computer Hacking

Drone Mitigation

  • A Drone is an Aircraft by definition under the Civil Aviation Act:  Possible Offences: Therefore any action taken against it could be considered the same as taking action against a manned aircraft.
  • Radio Frequency and GPS Jamming: Australian Communications and Media authority (ACMA) is the government body responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications.  The Radiocommunications Act provides for the management of the radio frequency spectrum and creates several offences for operating Radio Frequency (RF) or GPS jamming equipment with authority.  Possible Offences:  Offences could include the possession of equipment without licence, the use and possession of a nonstandard device, the operation of a prohibited device such as GPS jammer, the interference with radio communications likely to affect the safe operation of an aircraft, and disruption of communications generally.
  • Protocol Manipulation (Spoofing): The use of protocol manipulation, or spoofing technology, involves the manipulation of the communication protocol between the controller (pilot) and the drone. By definition the drone and control device could be considered ‘computers’ and any manipulation could be considered ‘computer hacking’ which is a criminal offence.  Possible Offences: Computer Hacking