Trump orders assessment of security risks of Chinese drones

US Department of Homeland Security warned US firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones


Reuters January 19, 2021
A REUTERS FILE IMAGE

WASHINGTON:

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order directing US agencies to assess any security risks from Chinese-made drones in American government fleets and to prioritize removing them.

Trump directed all US agencies to outline the security risks posed to the existing government drone fleet from drones built by Chinese companies or by other countries deemed foreign adversaries, including Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

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Trump’s order also directs agencies to outline “potential steps that could be taken to mitigate these risks, including, if warranted, discontinuing all federal use of covered (drones) and the expeditious removal of (drones) from federal service.”

Last month, the US Commerce Department added China’s SZ DJI Technology Co, the world’s largest drone maker, to the US government’s economic blacklist, along with dozens of other Chinese companies. A DJI spokesman declined immediate comment on Monday.

In January 2020, the US Interior Department grounded its fleet of about 800 Chinese-made drones but said it would allow their use for emergency situations.

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US Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in October ordered a halt to additional purchases of Chinese-made drones by the department.

In May 2019, the US Department of Homeland Security warned US firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones. In a notice, DHS said US officials have “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.”

DJI said last month it was disappointed by the Commerce Department decision but noted that “customers in America can continue to buy and use DJI products normally.”

 

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