A recurring headline that we’ve had for the past couple of years is the wariness of governments around the globe when it comes to Chinese technology, or, to be more specific, companies with possible ties to the central government in Beijing.
Some of the more prominent examples include moves by governmental agencies to ban the popular app TikTok and the blacklisting of Huawei a few years back.
One popular company that has largely escaped scrutiny, although not entirely, is DJI, the world's largest consumer drone manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China.
Popular with photographers and other media specialists, DJI drones are a go-to product for many people looking for a high-quality experience and a trusted brand name. But they’re not just popular with consumers, they’re also popular with many governmental agencies around the world, including police forces. And it is this popularity that is the most concerning to governments, in this case, the state of Florida.
As Drone DJ reports on April 5, 2023, the implementation of an unpopular ban on products from a “foreign country of concern” took effect in Florida leading to the grounding of fleets of state agency drones. The bill that initiated the ban was largely concerned with the logistics of drone operation as a public agency, including data privacy concerns and the proper release of information to the public about drone activities. It is the last clause which includes an approved list of drone vendors that effectively bans companies like DJI from being used by police agencies, fire departments, and others.
The approved list of drones includes firms such as Skydio, Parrot, Altavian, Teal Drones, and Vantage Robotics.
The concerns of police agencies are many, including the possibility that using new drones could place them in danger. Underpinning this argument is the fact that DJI provided enterprise-specific drones to agencies that gave them particular capabilities related to the drone’s field of deployment. There’s little doubt that DJI is the largest and probably by many standards the most sophisticated drone operation out there which has led to concerns that other products may be playing catch-up. In a comment to Drone DJ, DJI expressed regret over the state of Florida’s actions and reiterated their commitment to independent auditing and building trust in their products with consumers of all types.
Thoughts that you might have on governmental agencies banning Chinese apps (such as TikTok) or drones are welcome in the comments section below.
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