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posted by takyon on Thursday March 30 2017, @03:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the hard-to-see-license-plate dept.

Drones could someday have a sort of invisible license plate that allows local authorities to determine who the unmanned aerial system (UAS) belongs too. Pitched by Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, the concept for an electronic identification system for small drones is just one of many ideas as the Federal Aviation Administration looks into potential ways of identifying drone users.

DJI suggests drones should use the radio equipment already on board most systems to transmit a unique registration number. That number would identify the drone owner to law enforcement in the event of a complaint or flight through a restricted area. Areas with restricted drone flight, such as airports, could use radio equipment to read that number and report the ID number to the authorities. Since identifying the drone would require access to a database linking each number with a name, the invisible license plate approach would be less likely to be abused outside of law enforcement, DJI suggests.

"The best solution is usually the simplest," DJI wrote on Monday. "The focus of the primary method for remote identification should be on a way for anyone concerned about a drone flight in close proximity to report an identifier number to the authorities, who would then have the tools to investigate the complaint without infringing on operator privacy."

Source: Digital Trends

Related: FAA Drone Registry to be Publicly Searchable
FAA Doubles "Blanket Authorization" Altitude for Drones to 400 Feet


Original Submission

Related Stories

FAA Drone Registry to be Publicly Searchable 34 comments

From Gizmodo:

On Monday, the FAA will launch its online registry for drone operators with the aim of collecting personal information from the owners of these unmanned aircraft. But according to a report from Forbes, all those names and addresses will eventually be publicly available. Which seems... kinda scary?

Over at Forbes, John Goglia says he's been poking the FAA for answers ever since the FAQ about registration went up. Of particular concern are two contradictory statements from the FAA and DOT. The FAA says only their agency and a contractor will have access to the personal information collected. The DOT says that all information regarding registered aircraft must be made publicly available. So Goglia emailed the FAA until he got this answer:

"Until the drone registry system is modified, the FAA will not release names and address. When the drone registry system is modified to permit public searches of registration numbers, names and addresses will be revealed through those searches."

To me, despite the fact that I don't have a drone (nor do I plan on getting one), this is a very scary slippery slope that we are running down. Today it is a publicly searchable drone registry, what comes next? That I own a gun? My tax returns? How I voted in the last few elections? My medical history?

While I can see the want to keep tabs on drones that are able to carry cameras, and there are tremendous privacy concerns about it, having a database like this be publicly searchable is a VERY frightening prospect.


Original Submission

FAA Doubles "Blanket Authorization" Altitude for Drones to 400 Feet 29 comments

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will allow drone flights without a Certificate of Authorization at an altitude of up to 400 feet in areas without restricted airspace:

After a comprehensive risk analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised the unmanned aircraft (UAS) "blanket" altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators to 400 feet. Previously, the agency had put in place a nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for such flights up to 200 feet.

The new COA policy allows small unmanned aircraft—operated as other than model aircraft (i.e. commercial use)—to fly up to 400 feet anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the agency prohibits UAS operations.

[...] The FAA expects the move will reduce the workload for COA applications for industry UAS operators, government agencies and the FAA's Air Traffic Organization. The agency also estimates the move will lessen the need for individual COAs by 30 to 40 percent. Other provisions of an FAA authorization, such as registering the UAS and making sure pilots have the proper certification, still apply.

Also at The Register, Digital Trends.


Original Submission

GitHub Rejects Drone-Maker DJI's DMCA Takedown After Encryption Keys Get Forked 19 comments

Drone hackers/researchers can modify the firmware for DJI drones, thanks to rogue DJI developers and a fork of a public Github repo:

Github rejected a DMCA takedown request from Chinese drone-maker DJI after someone forked source code left in the open by a naughty DJI developer, The Register can reveal.

This included AES keys permitting decryption of flight control firmware, which could allow drone fliers with technical skills to remove geofencing from the flight control software: this software prevents DJI drones from flying in certain areas such as the approach paths for airports, or near government buildings deemed to be sensitive.

Though the released key is not for the latest firmware version, The Register has seen evidence (detailed below) that drone hackers are already incorporating it in modified firmware available for anyone to download and flash to their drones.

[...] In fact the people who posted the keys to DJI's kingdom, as well as source code for various projects, were DJI devs. The company said in a later statement that they were sacked.

The code was forked by drone researcher Kevin Finisterre, who submitted a successful rebuttal to the takedown request on the grounds that Github's terms and conditions explicitly permit forking of public repos.

[...] Drone hackers have already begun distributing modded firmware for DJI's popular Phantom drones, as we can see on – where else? – Github

Previously: Man Gets Threats-Not Bug Bounty-After Finding DJI Customer Data in Public View

Related: DJI introduced new software to stop its drones from flying in restricted airspace.
Skip the Complex Tracking Software, DJI Says, and Give Drones an "Invisible" License Plate
$500 DJI Spark Drone can Take Off and Land from Your Palm
DJI Will Ground Drones If They Don't Apply a Software Update


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Thursday March 30 2017, @03:52PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @03:52PM (#486537)

    Gun owners will not like this. It de-legitimizes the idea that you should shoot first and ask questions later.

    If you see a drone, or anything that might be a drone, stand your ground!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:06PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:06PM (#486547)
    • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:23PM

      by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:23PM (#486611)

      I think it's very easy to deal with the problem of people not using a registered drone, or a purposefully mis-registered drone: shoot first ask questions later.

      If your drone is being used to harass or is flying in unauthorized airspace, then I say you deserve to lose your toy.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by meustrus on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:13PM (6 children)

    by meustrus (4961) <{meustrus} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:13PM (#486556)

    So what's the rationale exactly behind it being more secret than car license plates? I'm not opposed to it. But I am concerned that a "private" law enforcement database just means that only government and hackers will be able to track drones. That is worse than everybody being able to track them.

    Even worse than that will be that everybody assumes they aren't being tracked, which is also false. At least with license plates, we all know that our car could theoretically be tracked from one place to another.

    Secrets are bad, m'kay?

    --
    If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative. Maybe the underused +1 Interesting?
    • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:21PM (4 children)

      by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:21PM (#486561) Homepage Journal

      I only scanned the article but didn't see any notes about it being encrypted. If it is broadcasting an open standard it should be easy for anyone to monitor the unique ID of drones.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:26PM (#486570)

        Monitor, and spoof.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Spamalope on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:27PM (2 children)

        by Spamalope (5233) on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:27PM (#486571) Homepage

        So, I record the broadcast of the drone when the person I don't like is flying - clone that data onto mine without ever needing to decrypt and I'm ready for to frame them when I send the drone somewhere secure? Or just clone one from a very different location before the crime?

    • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:25PM

      by zocalo (302) on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:25PM (#486568)
      The Devil is in the implementation details. There's no reason why the "license plate" shouldn't be broadcast to anyone with a suitable receiver (yay, yet more EM clutter on the 2.4GHz band!) including the general public, but the actual owner's information should probably be treated with the same degree of confidentiality as the local jurisdications approach to car license plates, which is pretty variable from place to place. "Yes, Officer, the drone hovering over my garden with it's camera pointed at my daughter's window had license plate DJI-XYZ123" is more than enough for a suitable (non-vigilante) response.

      I think at this point it's pretty much inevitable that some form of license tracking/registration is going to be applied to drones in most - if not all - jurisdictions thanks to a few idiots and knee jerk responses to some limited terror use (a virtual license plate certainly isn't going to deter a criminal/terrorist planning on using a drone for something from doing so). In that light, it might be much better to push for a minimal tracking system based on an established model people are generally comfortable with now, rather than waiting for some politician without a clue spouting the usual "won't someone think of the children!" crap to come up with something far worse.
      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Justin Case on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:43PM (2 children)

    by Justin Case (4239) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @04:43PM (#486581) Journal

    1. Politician reads about this, thinks great idea, passes law requiring transmitting a number so we can arrest you.

    2. People deserving arrest transmit fake number.

    3. Law against transmitting anything fake.

    4. ???

    5. Mayhem

    Doesn't anybody get it? Most digital messages can be easily falsified!

    "The best solution is usually the simplest,"

    Yeah, well, this isn't it. You'll need some kind of encryption and authentication to prove the number is the correct, original, untampered number. You'll also need to prohibit (how?) the owner of the device from replacing the software. Have we been down this road before? Ever? Anyone???

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by takyon on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:08PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:08PM (#486595) Journal

      1. Politician reads about this, thinks great idea, passes law requiring transmitting a number so we can arrest you.

      What else did you expect from a manufacturer and an industry trade group engaging with a violently imposed monopoly?

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:47PM (#486763)

        This. I expected this.

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:09PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:09PM (#486597)

    Would it be possible on an ordinary aircraft (not a drone) to paint a fake number on the tail? Or paint someone else's actual number?

    Similarly, would it be possible to make a realistic looking license plate that had a fake number, or someone else's number?

    I wonder if one could make a drone transmit the same ID number as another drone? Or a completely fictitious number?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Justin Case on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:12PM

      by Justin Case (4239) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:12PM (#486602) Journal

      Yes you can do all of these things.

      People are well aware of how to forge physical evidence, and how to detect forgeries. But computers ==> magic, brain off.

      What you can't do, outside the digital world, is change your ID number 10 times a second.

  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:20PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:20PM (#486609)

    1) How is DJI keeping track of all the drones purchases and resale worldwide legally?
    2) Will that happen before or after someone finally kills a bunch of people by causing an accident with his drone, raising liability to a level that kills the whole consumer side of the business?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by nobu_the_bard on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:22PM (1 child)

    by nobu_the_bard (6373) on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:22PM (#486610)

    So it's a transponder.

    Why don't they just say "we should put transponders on drones"?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:56PM (#486767)

      Probably because people know that transponders can be easily spoofed.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @05:55PM (#486648)

    Catch people abusing it in the act. Don't screw around with registrations or licenses or tracking or anything that will work about as well as CB regulation did in the 70s.

    OR, impose a HUGE ASS TAX on it like we do with smoking to discourage use of them. And make it as high as you need so only X amount are out there.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday March 30 2017, @08:30PM (4 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Thursday March 30 2017, @08:30PM (#486730)

    I guess they'd really like us to believe that drones can only be purchased (or actually make it illegal to do otherwise [thedrive.com]).

    Well guys, here's the news for ye: that horse has bolted a long time ago [google.com].

    1. read some articles e.g. this [mydronelab.com]
    2. buy propellers [aliexpress.com], motors [aliexpress.com] (some come with matched propellers), batteries, connectors, straps, camera, etc [aliexpress.com]
    3. put some elbow-grease and DIY some wooden frame (cheap pine timber will do), mount an arduino and whatnot, git your software, etc. Leave a bit of room underneath for the next step
    4. mount a firearm [youtube.com] of your choice [youtube.com] from the Venn intersection of the weight your drone can carry and mischief. Use your imagination.
    5. ???
    6.get a good car and getaway driver, then have fun.

    Approximately quoting a nice Russian-accented man: the future is here, prepare. Good bye, Yuri. [youtube.com]

    PS: if you like crawlers better... oh, yes, you can [youtube.com]

    • (Score: 2) by Justin Case on Thursday March 30 2017, @10:59PM (1 child)

      by Justin Case (4239) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 30 2017, @10:59PM (#486798) Journal

      When propellers are outlawed, only outlaws will have propellers.

      When will we learn it is not a crime to possess something (that the police or your enemy could have planted on you); it is what you do with it that determines guilt.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday March 30 2017, @11:52PM

        by c0lo (156) on Thursday March 30 2017, @11:52PM (#486827)

        When propellers are outlawed, only outlaws will have propellers.

        This will make a terrorist suspect from any individual owning a mediocre CNC machine (able to mill a mold) and owning a temperature-controlled deep-frier (able to reach and maintain 220C, the temperature at which a nylon chopping board melts).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @02:21AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31 2017, @02:21AM (#486886)

      FYI, your second link for the drone mounted gun video is broken. Would like to see it but my Google-foo let me down...

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday March 31 2017, @05:42AM

        by c0lo (156) on Friday March 31 2017, @05:42AM (#486946)
        FYI, your second link for the drone mounted gun video is broken.

        Sorry for that: Roasting the Holiday Turkey [youtube.com] - flamethrower mounted on a drone.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:19PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:19PM (#486751)

    Drone already recieve radio signals. Have it listern for DEAD ZONE. If found, turn off asll power and fall from the sky. This protect spacves are protected.

    Airports currently boardcast a homing beacon qith anglur seconday becon, use it! Encode a a distance form beacon required and beacon "'location". As drone approaches it, it start to loose power / attitude and finally grounds itself. Will not take off in the area. Now the range is increased legal / emerency, only the becon will need to change. No licensing id neefrd.

    Simple.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:45PM

      by c0lo (156) on Thursday March 30 2017, @09:45PM (#486762)

      As drone approaches it, it start to loose power / attitude and finally grounds itself.
      ...
      Simple

      For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.

      If I control the software (of a DIY drone), my drone will not go down. And neither will broadcast any ID (or it will broadcast shitty IDes).

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @10:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30 2017, @10:00PM (#486769)

    Have DJI solved the riddle of dark matter?

  • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Thursday March 30 2017, @10:00PM

    by inertnet (4071) on Thursday March 30 2017, @10:00PM (#486770)

    Can I have "DR ONE" on mine please?

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