WASHINGTON – Federal agencies have split on how best to handle national security concerns surrounding the popular and ubiquitous Chinese-made drone, with some policymakers looking at a more secure approach.
The Department of the Interior, which uses drones for wildlife conservation and infrastructure monitoring, has laid the groundwork for all built in China or built in October with the help of the Chinese section. It reaffirmed its decision in January, stating that its 6 drones would remain largely out of commission, until it could confirm that they had no security threat.
Yet the Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management and Budget last year raised warnings about congressional legislation that would make it impossible for the US government to buy Chinese drones. The Department of Agriculture, which uses drones to survey farmland, said that it could “perform our mission-critical work” and completely “stop” the use of drones in the Forest Service.
The Trump administration has been relentlessly campaigning to keep the United States away from Chinese technology, saying the Chinese government can use it to spy on the United States. The administration is trying to keep the next generation of telecommunications giant Huawei out of wireless networks in the US and abroad, and has expanded its investigation into Chinese investment in sectors that are considered “critical” such as telecoms and technology. Federal officials have also investigated whether mobile apps owned by Chinese companies can expose sensitive data.
Their efforts have been encouraged by members of Congress on both sides, many of whom are Written laws that limit China’s ability to operate in the United States.
However, the debate over drones, which were largely made up of either China or Chinese, shows how attempts to ‘decouple’ America from the Chinese industry could crash the reality of the global technology supply chain.
DJI, a drone maker based in Shenzhen, China, is the industry’s top leader so far, with analysts estimating that its market share is 70% or more. Its drones are used only by government agencies and not by hobbyists. Even some of the most competitive products made in America include Chinese parts.
“Decoupling is not like a magic rand where you just said, ‘We won’t use these people anymore,'” said James Lewis, director of the Technology Policy Program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The proliferation of DJI products has attracted the concern of government officials over the years. In 2017, a memo from the Los Angeles Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had “moderate confidence” that the DJI was criticizing the United States for “infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”
Though the DJI denied the claim, concerns remain. Last year, Congress was approved A measure Defense agencies are blocking Chinese drone purchases.
There is also a bipartisan group of lawyers The introduction of laws This would effectively prevent federal agencies from buying drones made in China, accusing companies of stealing intellectual property and endangering American security.
The proposed law raised concerns from different angles of the executive branch.
In a letter to The New York Times, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Stephen L. Sinsky told the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget that the agency has major concerns with the law. A letter in late September said the law would “severely impact the establishment, development, and implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s drone program to perform important functions in our department.”
Mr Sinsky also stated in the letter that drones could be effective in the agency’s efforts to conserve nature, fight wildfires and monitor the health of forests.
The agency saw a new version of the draft law in December, according to the second letter, but Mr Senseki said it was still “concerned that none of our previous comments were considered or integrated with this rewrite.”
The Budget Office also stated that a memo circulated in September opposed a version of the ban, which was The first report It was raised by Politico that the ban on public use of Chinese drones would prompt Chinese officials to treat American companies in the same way and hinder their growth. And it said that “banning the use of these systems with no viable alternative would put undue burden on federal agencies.”
The following month, the Interior Department produced any drone made with parts of China or Chinese. Last week, they formally brought the move – officials said it was “questionable” aimed at China – when emergency drone was allowed to be used.
The company said it would not be used until they were tested for safety errors. Non-emergency missions will use other aircraft or helicopters.
The Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Management and Budget did not respond to requests for comment.
Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican and sponsor of the law, talked to federal agencies about banning Chinese drone purchases, saying he was unaware of the Department of Agriculture’s letters but noted that the defense agency had raised concerns about flying devices.
“While I am lagging behind the agriculture department of the Dairy Margin Coverage Program when it poses a threat to our national security, I am eager to agree with security-minded experts,” he said.
Critics of the DJI say that it is important for the United States to create its own drone companies that can compete with Chinese companies.
Skidio, a California company, made its drones in the state but still uses some Chinese parts. Its chief executive, Adam Bray, said all the key ingredients were American – and the company is moving away from fully utilizing Chinese parts.
DJI seeks to calm the Trump administration’s fears, Some of its production is to be taken to California and a version of its users explicitly launched for public users.
In a statement, DJI said it supported the development of standards to reduce security concerns about drones, rather than the overall ban on Chinese products.
A domestic spokesman said, “They are a protectionist driver to exclude successful competitors for the existence of domestic suppliers.”
“Federal officials and legal professionals who support this restrictive country have little understanding of how drones use them to do their job, and explain how they use drones to handle wildlife, support wildlife and monitor the health of forests in any way sensitive or U.S. national. Can’t safely At risk, “he said.