Chinese smartphone and tech-maker Huawei was placed in an unpleasant position this week, a direct result of the ongoing America-China trade war. It is possible, however, that it’s not the only Chinese company entering the States’ crosshairs. Chinese drone-maker DJI might find itself facing similar issues, thanks to a new alert that was just issued by America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The alert, first picked up by CNN before being expanded on by The Verge, expressed concerns that Chinese-made drones could be transmitting data collected in the States over to China. The DHS statement doesn’t name any specific companies but CNN has pointed out that almost 80% of the drones in operation in the States are made by Shenzhen-based DJI. Which is to be expected, the company makes about 90% of the world’s electronics, which includes some pretty awesome drone hardware and, most recently, a GoPro-worrying action camera.
A portion of the DHS statement is below. It doesn’t constitute any sort of actionable movement for DJI, or any other Chinese drone makers, but it does signal an unpleasant position. Should DJI join Huawei on the dreaded ‘Entity List’, it’ll see its business in the States curtailed. It’s not clear whether DJI will face the same issues as Huawei, which has seen licenses suspended or revoked. Just being unable to compete in the American market (and any others that follow suit) would put a dent in the drone company’s bottom line.
“The United States government has 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.
Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made (unmanned aircraft systems)-connected devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities.”
Which, before you tell us, doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot on its own. But should it become the basis for a new executive order, DJI will find itself looking at a very different landscape to the one that was visible last week. Time will tell, but we’re keeping a closer-than-normal eye on America-China relationships at present. Just in case.