Since 2019, DJI drones have been on the edge for US lawmakers. Due to the US-China trade war in 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) declared Chinese-made drones as a potential risk to information of an organization. This escalated furthermore in 2020 when the U.S government blacklisted DJI drones altogether. However, a recent Pentagon audit has granted clearance to DJI drones and declared them safe.
What Did The Report Mention?
While most of the report is classified, two DJI drones built for the government have been granted clearance. The drones were tested and pentagon officials found ‘no malicious code or intent’. The report states that “Government Entities and forces working within the U.S services” can now use the two DJI drones.
“This U.S. government report is the strongest confirmation to date of what we, and independent security validations, have been saying for years – DJI drones are safe and secure for government and enterprise operations. DJI believes defining specific standards and requirements, regardless of a drone’s country of origin, is the best way to ensure the security of drone data,” DJI’s Adam Lisberg stated to the news publication, The Hill.
In January 2020, the Pentagon had reportedly grounded a fleet of more than 500 DJI drones due to security concerns. Several lawmakers had alleged that the Chinese drone manufacturer was sharing data collected in the U.S with the Chinese government. However, DJI quickly disputed these allegations and maintained that it does not share any data with the Chinese government or the company itself.
DJI’s Future in America
DJI holds over 77% of the U.S drone market share. Being the largest drone manufacturer in the world, the blacklisting was a setback to the company. It appears DJI is not entirely out of rough waters. U.S lawmakers are still weighing in on restrictions against Chinese drones. However, the Pentagon clearance will provide the drone giant with some breathing room.
The Hill reports that an analysis conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton in June 2020, found no evidence that DJI shares the data and information of its U.S clients with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Additionally, lawmakers are skeptical of Chinese hardware in telecommunication products due to similar security concerns. Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE have come under fire amidst anti-China pushback. However, a thorough review is underway to determine if any of these claims hold merit. While U.S based drone manufacturers like Skydio are making headlines, it is unlikely that DJI drones would be permanently blacklisted.