Two solidly conservative Republican lawmakers, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz, just issued an urgent warning to law enforcement. Stop using Chinese Drones! They wrote a letter to federal officials spelling out their objections. Despite federal guidance of “security concerns,” it seems that state and local police are using equipment which sends a copy of all the collected data back to the maker in China. In New York City alone, the NYPD is currently using at least 14 of the insecure DJI drones.
A letter warning officials
Two staunchly conservative congressional Representatives, Ohio’s Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz of Florida, fired a recent letter off to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. They were joined by around a dozen more of their Republican colleagues in the House who also signed off on the letter.
Together, they issued a stern warning that the Chinese-made “surveillance” drones designed to “enforce coronavirus social-distancing rules” could be sending every frame of footage back to the company’s headquarters in mainland China.
Security bulletins went out already but not everyone got the memo. “Although federal law enforcement agencies have warned of potential information security concerns with DJI drones, it is not clear whether state and local law enforcement agencies are fully aware of these issues.”
Beware of Chinese bearing gifts
As the Trojan’s learned a long time ago, it’s best to look a gift horse in the mouth. Ever since then, the world has been wary of “Greeks bearing gifts.” Now we need to watch out for the Chinese. They are “loaning” the drones to American police. As the equipment is used “to help them surveil and punish citizens who aren’t complying with COVID-19 restrictions,” As the Republicans are warning, the Chinese get to watch the whole show.
Outside of New York, the Elizabeth, NJ, police department proudly announced on April 7, that they “We were able to secure 5 DJI Mavic 2 UAV, on loan through DJI’s Public Safety Disaster Relief Program.” They will be used to “locate social gatherings and issue $1,000 fines.”
Especially helpful, “the new models are equipped with voice capabilities.” That means they can flit around the city “with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home. Summonses HAVE AND WILL CONTINUE to be issued to those found in violation.”
The FAA is already looking into an episode involving “a drone that flew over the East River broadcasting a pro-social-distancing message.” NYPD swears up and down that it wasn’t one of theirs. Concerns about back doors in sensitive Chinese electronics are the main reason why the U.S. is warning our allies not to use any telecommunications services or equipment provide by Huawei. It’s nearly a certainty that the Chinese Communist Party is snooping “sensitive information.”