In 2017, the U.S. army banned the use of DJI drones over concerns that DJI was transmitting information collected using the devices to the Chinese government.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency memo outlined concerns. With Chinese made drones it was possible to “compromise your data and share information on a server accessed beyond the company itself.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement banned DJI drones claiming they were “selectively targeting government and privately owned entities” to steal sensitive data for China.
Lawmakers responded with the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill banned Chinese drones for military use.
Free pandemic drones complicate the situation
Tensions flared up again in April, 2020, when DJI donated drones to the U.S. They sent drones to 43 law enforcement organizations operating in 22 states. The drones were being used to monitor and surveil hard to reach places.
“Think about this for a second. This virus originated in Communist China and the Communist Party’s lies helped it spread around the world.” Senator Rick Scott tweeted. “Now we’re using drones made by a Chinese company and backed by the CCP to enforce social distancing. This is crazy!”