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Controversial Bill Allowing Authorities to Shoot Down Private Drones Heads to President’s Desk

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The U.S. government will soon have the authority to shoot down private drones considered a threat.

Following a House vote in April, the Senate this week passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which renews funding for the Federal Aviation Administration until 2023.

It also aims to modernize aviation rules by making commercial flights more comfortable for disabled passengers and acting against privately owned drones.

Specifically, section 1602—Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft—authorizes the detection, identification, monitoring, tracking, and takeover of drones “without prior consent, including by means of intercept.”

Officials are empowered to seize and control unmanned aircraft using “reasonable force, if necessary, to disable, damage, or destroy” the device.

Such freedom, civil rights groups argue, can easily be abused by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security—essentially turning the skies into the Wild West.

Unmanned aerial vehicles have gained popularity among hobbyist pilots, film directors, explorers, and journalists. Heck, Dolce & Gabbana even replaced its human models with drones during a February fashion show.

But the devices are also seen as a threat—crashing onto the White House grounds and smuggling smartphones through China.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have denounced the bill.

“These provisions give the government virtually carte blanche to surveil, seize, or even shoot a drone out of the sky—whether owned by journalists or commercial entities—with no oversight or due process,” an ACLU spokesperson told TechCrunch. “They grant new powers to … spy on Americans without a warrant.”

“Flying of drones can raise security and privacy concerns, and there may be situations where government action is needed to mitigate these threats,” the group wrote in a recent blog post. “But this bill is the wrong approach.”

Other critics include the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which said the legislation “ignores pressing concerns about the privacy impact of drones” and lacks “baseline privacy safeguards.”

The bill is now on its way to the president’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law, according to TechCrunch.

The 2018 Drone Awards photo contest proves the power of unmanned aerial vehicles. This summer, scientists unveiled a modern, intuitive way to pilot UAVs—using your torso. Stay up to date on all things drones here.

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Watch: Passengers Freak Out Over New Tesla Roadster’s Record-Setting Acceleration

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When Tesla announced its new version of the Roadster, which can accelerate in zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, a lot of people were doubtful.

But a new video of the first test rides in the new Roadster, unveiled by Tesla on YouTube on Friday, shows that the “quickest car in the world” could actually be close to becoming a reality.

The video shows passengers’ hilarious reactions as the Roadster demonstrates its record-setting acceleration.

Reactions included a lot of “Holy S%!#” and “Oh My God” and “Holy F%!#”

According to Tesla, the all-new Roadster can travel 620 miles on a single charge – a new record for an all-electric vehicle.

“[It’s] the fastest production car ever made, period,” said Tesla founder Elon Musk. (Photo Credit: Tesla, Inc.)

The four-seater supercar can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and it boasts a top speed of 250 mph.

The all-new Roadster will cost $200,000 at launch (the first 1,000 are available for a ‘Founders Series Price’ of $250,000), and will be available in 2020.

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Cuba Rolls Out Mobile Internet Service to Citizens for the First Time

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Cubans will now be able to access the internet on their mobile phones, according to state-run telecom agency ETECSA.

The announcement is a milestone for the Communist-run country, which has long been considered one of the least connected countries in the world, and one of the last without mobile internet.

Starting Thursday, December 6, citizens would be able able to start subscribing to internet access via a 3G mobile network.

In a news show broadcast on Tuesday, ETECSA executives announced a range of packages valid for 30 days from 600 MB for the equivalent of $7 dollars to 4 GB for $30. Without a package, 100 MB will cost users $10, Reuters reported.

With average state wages at around $30, the cost for mobile internet will likely be out of reach for most Cubans, even though users get a bonus 300MB use of local .cu domain websites.

The list of packages for the connection to mobile internet from mobile phones is displayed on a woman’s phone screen in Havana, Cuba on December 6, 2018. (Photo Credit: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

Until today, citizens have mostly relied on Wi-Fi hotspots and internet cafes for mobile internet access, and the 3G service has been restricted to state-employed journalists and foreign businesses among others, according to BBC News.

“It was about time this became a possibility for Cubans too,” Havana resident Joaquin Montiel, 58, told Reuters. “But for some, like me, it’s still a remote one.” Montiel said he would not be able to afford a cellphone with 3G technology on his salary of less than $20 per month as a salesman in a state company.

Still, the launch is seen by many as a sign that the country is further softening its tough stance on individual freedoms. Internet was only largely available to tourist hotels and state-run clubs until 2013, when the island country began opening internet cafes.

It wasn’t until 2015 when the first Wi-Fi hotspot opened at a cultural centre, and other public spaces followed, the BBC reported. But many Cubans have complained about having to brave the elements just to use the Wi-Fi at the hotspots, which also lack of privacy. In 2017, ETECSA offered a limited number of home connections.

To reduce the risk of being overwhelmed with demand, ETECSA is rolling out the new 3G service will be rolled out over a three-day period.

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Robot Vacuum Showdown: Neato Versus Roomba

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Cleaning can be a pain sometimes, especially if you have to use a clunky vacuum to suck up nasty debris. Thankfully though, technology has gifted us with handy smart home devices, including Neato […]

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