The U.S. Government Is Considering a Ban on DJI Drones Due to Chinese Surveillance Concerns

by | Jun 14, 2024 | News | 0 comments

The Countering CCP Drones Act has been introduced in the US Congress by Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) which would create a nationwide ban in the U.S. on the use of DJI (Da Jiang Innovations) drones. The legislation proposes adding DJI to a list maintained by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 which would block DJI’s drones from running on communications infrastructure in the U.S. effectively rendering them unusable. Modern drones are dependent on communication infrastructure for core functionalities like GPS navigation, control signal transmission, and video transmission necessary for stable flight, precise control, and real-time visual feedback.

Proponents of the bill cite national security concerns, alleging DJI drones are providing data on critical infrastructure in the United States to the Chinese Communist Party. Their claim is that this has the potential to be used for military or industrial espionage creating technological dominance over the U.S. This bill has the potential to significantly impact the drone industry in the U.S. affecting both professionals and consumers who rely on DJI drones including public safety applications like search and rescue missions. DJI and a coalition of user groups are fighting the ban through lobbying efforts and more. Opponents of the bill argue that such a measure would not only stifle competition, but also perpetuate xenophobia while hindering innovation in the drone industry. DJI also maintains that users can opt out of a feature allowing their drones to collect flight logs, photos or videos as well as disconnecting the flight app from the internet.

The company has dominated both the consumer and commercial markets with an estimated 58% global market share. This is likely due to their relative affordability and constantly offering advanced features, making it easy for beginners to learn how to fly a drone. Beyond the consumer market, DJI has become a fixture in commercial applications including the entertainment industry where they are increasingly used for aerial cinematography. Following approval by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the bill would still need to make its way through Congress before being presented to President Joe Biden at which point he would have the option to veto. The motion picture industry, among many others, will be keeping a close eye on these developments; if this bill flies, DJI drones in the U.S. will not.

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