- China-based company DJI makes drones that DHS has flagged as security risks.
- Meanwhile, federal agencies like the FBI and Secret Service have purchased the drones.
- “DJI’s cyber security vulnerabilities are well documented,” says Marco Rubio.
Despite efforts to halt the use of Chinese surveillance drones by the federal government, many agencies, including the FBI and the Secret Service, have recently made drone purchases from Shenzhen-based company DJI.
And the Department of Homeland Security is not happy about it.
According to Axios, “in 2017, the Department of Homeland Security — the Secret Service’s parent agency — stated with ‘moderate confidence’ that DJI was ‘providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.’
DJI products are prohibited by both the Interior Department and the Commerce Department for safety and security reasons.”DJI’s cyber security vulnerabilities are well documented,” says Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has advocated for doing away with Chinese drone tech for good.
“Given everything we know about the Chinese Communist Party and its companies, there is absolutely no excuse for any government agency to use DJI drones, or any other drones manufactured in countries identified as national security threats,” Rubio adds.
Concerns over DJI tech are largely due to the proprietary software that must be downloaded to fly the drones and use the mapping databases. This raises serious privacy concerns. But DJI spokesman Adam Lisberg says Americans have nothing to worry about.
“Claims that somehow DJI products are transmitting customer data back to China, or to DJI, or anywhere they’re not supposed to be … are just false,” Lisberg told Axios. “No one has ever found a deliberate attempt to steal data, or any of the other fantasies promoted by some of our critics. It simply isn’t true.”
Some reports claim there’s a possibility that the FBI and Secret Service purchased the drones in an attempt to study them to combat Chinese cyberattacks – but no official statement has been released by the government that would corroborate these claims.
Chinese cyberattacks against the U.S. are well documented, with one of the largest attacks in history taking place earlier this year on Microsoft’s Exchange mail servers. More than 30,000 customers were affected, including small businesses, state governments and military contractors.
Is it really that difficult to imagine a Chinese drone company could be stealing U.S. data?