Colour me unsurprised to hear a Chinese drone manufacturer is sharing videos of US critical infrastructure and law enforcement to the Chinese government:

DJI, one of the leading manufacturers of consumer and commercial drones sold in the United States, has been accused by US officials of “Providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”

DJI notes, for example, that it does not force its customers to upload their flight videos to the company’s servers, and that it has access to only those videos that its customers have actively sent to the firm’s equipment.

While China-based DJI is a dominant player in both the commercial and consumer drone markets in North America, the government accusation focuses on commercial drones – not consumer drones; it is not clear whether that is because the government does not believe DJI is sharing consumer drone data, or because commercial drone data sharing is likely a far bigger national security risk.

The current controversy over DJI comes just months after a similar controversy arose with US government officials accusing cybersecurity product vendor, Kaspersky Lab, of providing data to the Russian government.

The memo notes that “The Chinese government is likely using information acquired from DJI systems as a way to target assets they are planning to purchase. For instance, a large family-owned wine producer in California purchased DJI UAS to survey its vineyards and monitor grape production. Soon afterwards, Chinese companies began purchasing vineyards in the same area. According to the SOI, it appeared the companies were able to use DJI data to their own benefit and profit.”

Bottom line: do not buy anything from DJI ever again.