Days after the US Trump administration issued orders that resulted in Google banning Huawei access to their Android services the US Government has now moved to the drone market and Chinese drone maker DJI appears to be on their radar.
Overnight the US government has issued a warning that Chinese manufacturers such as market-leader DJI represent a “potential risk to an organisation’s information,” from products which “contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself.”
While the Department of Homeland Security report does not single out specific vendors, but with almost 75% of global drone sales coming from DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, the target is clear claim observers.
Such drone manufacturers, warns the DHS, operate “under the control or influence of a foreign authoritarian state,” and their devices are “capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them.”
In a statement, DJI assured customers that they have “full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted. At DJI, safety is at the core of everything we do, and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses.”
DJI added that “for government and critical infrastructure customers that require additional assurances, we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the internet, and our customers can enable all the precautions DHS recommends. Every day, businesses, first responders, and government agencies trust DJI drones to help save lives, promote worker safety and support vital operations, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
In Australia the Federal Government has already banned Huewei from tendering for 5G network contracts. The big question now is whether they will ban the use of DJI drones by Australian government agencies.
It already appears that the US government has strong concerns about any technology product that takes US data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data.
Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made (unmanned aircraft systems)-connected devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities.”