See Self-defense against overflying drones (with Zak Colangelo). It’s a quick summary of some of the arguments in our (draft) paper on Self-Defense Against Robots.
I wonder–am I the most liberal guest-poster ever at Volokh’s blog? Must surely be in the top five at least.
Thank you for the link to your WaPo piece; it was thought-provoking.
Are you familiar with California’s AB-2306 [PDF] legislation, just signed into law? While not mentioning drones explicitly, it broadens older legislation to “any device” specifically to capture the drone problem. While it is not a complete solution, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
In addition to a ban on weaponized drones, I think you should call for a broader ban on drones carrying harmful materials.
Rather than depend upon RFID, as suggested in your piece, I would like to suggest an alternative that does not require homeowners to buy specialized equipment. Drones should be required to upload their current position in real-time to a database (e.g. one maintained by the FAA). An exception for drones operating above one own’s property may be appropriate. This database should be capable of notifying citizens whenever drones enter boundaries that they set. Drone capabilities would be required to be entered in the database as well. I see this as less intrusive in terms of kg or Watts than transponder technology more than RFID (RFID being likely inadequate).
Any drone operating without a database entry should be presumed hostile, allowing counter measures to be taken (e.g. the use of nets or goo spray to immobilize it, rather than gunshots).
Given the gridlock in Congress, it is unlikely that we will see appropriate Federal legislation on this, and given Obama’s willingness to engage is mass surveillance of citizens, it is unlikely that his FAA will draft appropriate restrictions on law-enforcement drones. I suspect we will have more a wild west in drones for a while, with a classic arms race between drones and anti-drone technology (including anti-drone drones, or fighter drones). This will be an enormous waste of GDP, but that’s nothing new, is it?