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US DOI Grounds Drone Fleet for Non-Emergency Operations

January 31, 2020

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed Secretary's Order 3379 ordering the temporary cessation of non-emergency unmanned aircraft systems fleet operations.

The order is most likely related to the use of Chinese drones.

DOI spokesperson, Carol Danko, said: "Drones are important to critical Department of the Interior missions, such as combating wildfires and conducting life-saving search and rescue operations; however, we must ensure that the technology used for these operations is such that it will not compromise our national security interests.

After an ongoing review of Interior’s drone program, Secretary Bernhardt issued a Secretary’s Order today, affirming the temporary cessation of non-emergency drones while we ensure that cybersecurity, technology and domestic production concerns are adequately addressed. Drone use for non-emergency operations will remain grounded while the Department of the Interior reviews the possibility of threats and ensures a secure, reliable and consistent drone policy that advances our mission while keeping America safe.

Drone operations will continue to be allowed in approved situations for emergency purposes, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property."

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