On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) sent out an alert that was first obtained by CNN. It states that drones manufactured in China are a 'potential risk to an organization's information.' The products 'contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself.'
'The United States government has strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access,' the alert continues.
'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,' the alert adds.
While the report doesn't name a specific company, Shenzen-based DJI, which dominates the U.S. and Canadian drone markets with close to an 80% share, according to a market sector report from Skylogic Research, is of utmost interest.
While the report doesn't name a specific company, Shenzen-based DJI, which dominates the U.S. and Canadian drone markets with close to an 80% share, according to a market sector report from Skylogic Research, is of utmost interest. The manufacturer's drones were recently banned in the US Army several years back, despite no clear evidence of spying or data transfer from the aircraft being presented.
Still, concerns about hacking or the siphoning of data remain at the forefront. The USDHS alert follows an executive order, signed by President Donald Trump, prohibiting U.S. companies from using any telecommunications equipment from Chinese company Huawei. An escalating trade war between the two countries doesn't help matters and also raises suspicion on the timing of this latest USDHS alert on drones.
The United States leads the world in the number of drone platforms being developed. China comes in a close second place. If the trade war continues to escalate, many upstarts and manufacturers in the U.S. are going to face unexpected challenges with their supply chain if they built their platforms around any Chinese components, as sUAS News points out.
DJI responded to the USDHS' alert, the full statement is below:
'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 is leading the industry on this topic and our technology platform has enabled businesses and government agencies to establish best practices for managing their drone data. We give all customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted. 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, American businesses, first responders, and U.S. government agencies trust DJI drones to help save lives, promote worker safety, and support vital operations, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We are committed to continuously working with our customers and industry and government stakeholders to ensure our technology adheres to all of their requirements.'