The U.S. Department of Commerce has blacklisted the world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI, for espionage and human rights abuses. Nevertheless, the company’s products will continue to be available in the United States.
In the last weeks of the current government in office, the sanctions policy against China has been tightened. As a result, many technology companies – including electronic device manufacturers and the company behind the Tik-Tok application – have been blacklisted. Also involved was the DJI drone manufacturer, which was embroiled in a espionage scandal that was allegedly spying on users through a mobile app used for its products, including almost all government organizations. In January, for this reason, the Ministry of the Interior also temporarily stopped using them, despite their vital role.
In May, homeland security agencies also signaled to companies that their data could be at risk if certain products were used carelessly. From an American perspective, it is already a secondary indictment, but the justification for the sanctions says the DJI has contributed greatly to human rights violations. The piquancy of the case is that government agencies are not banned from buying and using DJI machines as part of the annual defense bill. Contributing to this is that it would be difficult to replace them with products from other manufacturers, this would be at the expense of functionality. The DJI said in response to the ban: although they were disappointed with the decision, U.S. buyers will not be let down, so sales will continue uninterrupted.
The reason for this is that the decision of the Ministry of Commerce does not affect sales, it is only necessary to go through strict control of blacklisted foreign companies in order to enter into contracts with suppliers there. Meanwhile, DJI is trying to refute the spy allegations in practice, and now Local Data mode can be activated in all their applications, from the most common GO 4 to Pilot applications used to control government drones, so no usage information is sent to the company’s servers after the flights.