Homeland Security issues warning against Chinese drones
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning about security risks pertaining to Chinese made drones.
The notice, titled “Chinese Manufactured Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” warns that there are “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.”
Reuters reported Monday that a spokesperson for the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency confirmed that it “recently released an industry alert providing organizations with information related to the inherent risks associated with using UAS technology manufactured in China and measures to reduce such risk.”
Strangely, the notice is not online on any DHS or CISA site and appears to have been issued confidentially to those in the drone industry. The suggestion is that data from Chinese-made drones are sent back to companies in mainland China and hence could be used by the Chinese Government for nefarious purposes.
The notice does not name a specific company — like the Trump administration executive order that bans American telecommunications firms from using foreign-made equipment that could present national security issued May 16 — but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that there’s one company in particular targeted by the notice.
Whereas the Trump administration had Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in its sights, CISA is clearly targeting DJI (Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology Co. Ltd.), the world’s most popular manufacturer of drones by market share.
This isn’t the first time DJI has been linked to alleged spying by the Chinese government. The U.S. Army issued a blanket ban on all drones manufactured by the company in 2017 over concerns that data from the company’s drones could be accessed by the Chinese government.
DJI does actually gather data from drones including mandatory registration. The company claimed that it would cripple unregistered drones in May 2017 on the basis that registration would allow it to “sync up each device with the specific regulations of the country where it’s being operated.”
The question is whether that data is being accessed by the Chinese government or not, and in the event that it could be, is it being used for nefarious purposes that pose a risk to U.S. national security?
Photo: Taka/Wikimedia Commons
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