Briefing: US issues warning about Chinese-made drones stealing data
May 21, 2019
What happened: The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned in an alert issued Monday that the US government has “strong concerns” about certain Chinese-made aircraft “that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data.” Users were cautioned when purchasing drones from China to take extra steps to protect data, like turning off the device’s internet connection, while organizations involved in national security and critical functions are told to be “especially vigilant as they may be at greater risk of espionage.”
Why it’s important: While no specific drone manufacturer was named, nearly 80% of drones in the US and Canada are made by Shenzhen-based DJI, the world’s largest commercial drone maker, according to the CNN report citing a study from Skylogic Research. The warning comes after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week effectively banning the sale and use of Huawei telecom equipment. DJI drones, now widely used in US infrastructure and government departments, have been banned from the US Army since 2017 amid allegations that the company collected and shared sensitive US data with the Chinese government.