The past couple of years have been filled with countries being at odds with Chinese technology companies. Chinese tech companies such as Huawei, ZTE, and others have faced backlash in countries.
This backlash comes on charges of alleged snooping and surveillance of its citizens. As allegations against these companies were sounded by their intelligence agencies, countries such as the UK, India, and the US have been quick to ban or halt the deployment of ZTE and Huawei equipment for 5G technology.
SCOOP: Federal law enforcement agencies are purchasing surveillance drones from a Chinese company the Pentagon has deemed a potential national security threat, Axios has learned.https://t.co/cdP3bC7M9s
— Axios (@axios) September 22, 2021
U.S. Secret Service and the FBI purchased items from the troubled Chinese technology company
The most prominent purchases of DJI products came from U.S. Secret Service and the FBI. Back in July, the Secret Service bought eight drones from the Shenzhen-based company, DJI Sciences and Technologies Ltd.
The purchase was made at the same time the Department of Defense declared the products to be a “potential” security threat. Records have shown on July 26, merely three days after the statement warning was issued by the Defense Department, the U.S. Secret Service obtained eight drones from the Shenzhen-based manufacturer.
Then, at around the same time, the FBI likewise purchased 19 drones from DJI Company.
DHS—Secret Service's parent agency—has warned that the company DJI is likely sending sensitive US data to the Chinese government.
In July, Secret Service bought 8 DJI drones. The FBI bought 19 https://t.co/rSOL3EspTL
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 22, 2021
DJI Sciences and Technologies Company is one of the most popular manufacturers of drones. However, the company requires the people who buy their products to download software that gives their users their own database mapping.
The proprietary software was considered to have the potential to be remotely monitored, posing a security threat. The purchase of these pieces of equipment and 5G technology likewise posed questions.
This is not only because of the concerning findings by the Defense Department. It is also due to the fact there are other available American alternatives that are just as competitive as the Chinese-made products.
DJI denied these allegations, claiming they are unfounded
The Defense Department is not the only U.S. government agency that made the purchase with DJI. In 2017, Homeland Security mentioned DJI was relaying law enforcement and infrastructure information to the Chinese authorities.
The Commerce Department prohibited DJI products from being exported last year as well. This came after they received reports the company was sharing US surveillance footage with authorities back in Xinjiang in the Uighur autonomous region.
Senator Marco Rubio was also quick to criticize the purchase, stating there exists no excuse when there is a historical precedent that DJI products are troublesome. On the other hand, DJI has categorically denied all of these claims, stating they are unfounded and have no backing whatsoever.
Yet, the company finds itself on a long list of Chinese companies that are now being pushed back against by certain sectors. Much to the brief relief of the company, a Department of Defense report paved the way for the use of drones for federal purposes.
This report was quickly dismissed by the Pentagon, however, classifying the report as inaccurate and unauthorized. Some experts stated the agencies might be buying these drones for counter-drone research into the security measures.
These claims, however, cannot be confirmed.