Here we go again… Fearmongering in an ill-advised effort to ban DJI drones in the US. This time it is Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) who are trying to add DJI to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Covered List because “DJI drones pose the national security threat of TikTok, but with wings,” according to Stefanik.

DJI drones have been at the forefront of aerial technology and have proven themselves as indispensable tools for various industries, most notably public safety and first response. Contrary to concerns about security threats, DJI drones have, in fact, played a vital role in saving lives and ensuring the safety of in the .

Banning DJI drones would pose a significant risk to public safety, as these unmanned aircraft systems are among the most capable and affordable aerial tools available to first responders across the country. DJI's advanced offers critical capabilities such as real-time aerial imaging, thermal imaging, excellent video transmission, great fight endurance, and obstacle avoidance, which enable first responders to make informed decisions in emergency situations.

In numerous instances, DJI drones have proven invaluable for missions, firefighting, and assessing damage during natural disasters. They allow first responders to access hard-to-reach areas, assess situations quickly, and make strategic decisions to save lives while minimizing risks to their own safety. Additionally, DJI has implemented robust security measures to protect users' data and maintain the highest level of privacy.

By banning DJI drones, first responders in the United States would be deprived of crucial aerial tools that help protect both the public and emergency personnel. In doing so, it would hinder their ability to respond effectively to emergencies and potentially put more lives at risk.

DJI drones have demonstrated their importance as life-saving tools for first responders in the United States. Banning these drones would not only compromise public safety but also jeopardize the lives of emergency personnel who rely on them to carry out their duties efficiently and safely.

Please watch this video (with a transcript) here from a Senate Committee earlier this year to learn how lobbying efforts by companies such as Skydio are putting people's lives at risk. During the same session, several first responders emphasized the significance of DJI drones in their professions and expressed their concerns about being hindered due to restrictions on using these essential tools.

You can read the entire press release with fearmongering quotes from Stefanik, Gallagher, and Carr below.

DJI drones pose national security threat of TikTok, but with wings

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the Countering CCP Drones Act, legislation that would add Chinese drone company Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Covered List, meaning that DJI technologies would be prohibited from operating on U.S. communications infrastructure.

DJI poses an unacceptable national security risk, as Chinese law provides the Chinese government with power to compel DJI to participate in and assist in its espionage activities. The FCC has implemented changes to ban equipment authorizations for companies on a Covered List of communications equipment and services that pose an unacceptable risk to national security of the United States. This bill would add DJI to that list.

Over 50% of drones sold in the U.S. are made by Chinese-based company DJI, and they are the most popular drone in use by public safety agencies. It has been reported that the Chinese government is an investor in DJI, directly contradicting DJI's public statements regarding their relationship with the Chinese government.

“DJI drones pose the national security threat of TikTok, but with wings,” Stefanik said. “The possibility that DJI drones could be equipped to send live imagery of military installations, critical infrastructure, and the personal lives of American citizens to poses too great a threat. Allowing this practice to continue in the U.S. is playing with fire. This Chinese-controlled company cannot be allowed to continue to operate in the U.S.”

“DJI drones pose a serious national security threat and belong nowhere near the federal government. The has recognized this and acted accordingly, and now it's time for Congress and the rest of federal government to follow suit. Legislation like my American Security Drone Act helps mitigate the DJI threat by preventing the federal government from procuring these drones, and the Countering CCP Drones Act builds on this effort by preventing these devices from benefitting from Federal Communications Commission subsidies and operating on FCC infrastructure. Given DJI's ties to the CCP and their military, as well as its complicity in the CCP's ongoing genocide, it's long past time for Congress to take this important action,” said Congressman Mike Gallagher.

“DJI drones and the surveillance technology on board these systems are collecting vast amounts of sensitive data—everything from high-resolution images of critical U.S. infrastructure to facial recognition technology and remote sensors that can measure an individual's body temperature and heart rate. Indeed, U.S. intelligence services have warned that DJI poses a serious national security threat due to the level of sensitive information it collects and the potential for Beijing to access that data. Despite mounting evidence, the U.S. has lacked a consistent and comprehensive approach to addressing the potential threats posed by a company that might be operating as a Huawei on wings. That would end by passing the Countering CCP Drones Act. So I applaud Congresswoman Stefanik and Congressman Gallagher for their strong leadership and work to advance America's national security in light of the threats posed by Communist China. This legislation is a vital step towards ensuring that Americans' sensitive information does not fall into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr.

Currently, Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hangzhou, and Dahua are entities included on the FCC's Covered list. Adding DJI to the Covered List would be consistent with actions taken throughout the , including:

  • In August 2017, an Intelligence Bulletin from a Field Office stated DJI is likely providing sensitive U.S. data to the Chinese Government.
  • In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, Congress banned the Department of Defense from purchasing and using drones and components manufactured in China.
  • In December 2020, the added DJI to its “Entity List” for its role in supporting China's human rights abuses.
  • In July 2021, the Department of Defense stated mitigating the threats posed by DJI is a priority for the Department.
  • In December 2021, the Department of the Treasury identified DJI as part of the Chinese Military-Industrial Complex, specifically due to their support of biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Hat tip to the Drone Analyst

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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2 Comments

  1. I have been around for 43 years and my life is not in less danger because I have a cell phone and I am pretty sure our first responders were not in any more danger when there were no “drones”. I get that DJI is the best but we cannot make change or prevent the CCP from their espionage, intellectual property theft or out right manipulation of those who use TilTok, which I will never use, unless we attempt to stop them. If the United States wants better quality drones then someone should step up and make them. Maybe they shouldn’t be as easily obtained and cost more than the Chinese companies charge? I myself have a DJI and use it in my STEM classroom and am very appreciative of it but I am not in a critical service situation where my data my be of high value. As the phrase goes “no pain no gain”. It rings true in most situations.

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