DJI responds to data security accusations driving drone blacklists

The world’s leading drone maker DJI has clearly had enough of the recurring accusations about the data security of its craft, and the attendant blacklists drawn up by US political leaders offering no substantiation of their claims. In response, the company has issued a rare clarification about the steps it takes to secure user information on its craft.

In the almost half decade since the first official bans on DJI drones arose from US federal agencies, the company has generally remained tight-lipped in the face of accompanying accusations its craft leak user data to Chinese government authorities. When it has responded to those and other justifications for proliferating blacklists, its statements tended to be laconic but categoric denials, along with reminders its products can easily be configured by operators to prevent wireless communication of collected information onboard.

But in the wake of the  American Security Drone Act of 2023 passage in December – and last week’s Federal Bureau of Investigations and Department of Homeland Security ‘s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warning referencing not-so-cryptic makers of “Chinese-manufactured” drones as data risks – DJI has stepped up set the record straight with a detailed statement.

As always – though possibly, “for now, anyway” – US laws and liberties still allow companies and consumers to not only choose the best products available to their investment budgets. They also permit the discernment of buyers in factoring in other considerations when deciding to adopt or avoid options open to them. In presenting DJI’s text, DroneDJ seeks to provide readers the company’s perspective in a debate dominated by statements from pro-blacklist advocates, and thus make informed decisions on their own.

Given the stakes involved in the surging US political movement to extend bans on the company’s drones – with one pending bill seeking to expand those to enterprise and consumer users across the country – and the prejudice they have had on its business, DroneDJ is reproducing DJI’s exceptional response in toto, with no additional commentary.

DJI’s Data Privacy Policies

DJI places the highest priority on data privacy – and puts customers in control of their data’s use.

While the FBI and CISA recently released guidance establishing data privacy best practices for drones, it is important to note that DJI already adopts the standards outlined by the government. Indeed, many agencies and enterprises have been employing those standards when using DJI drones long before this guidance was released.

Here are the facts about DJI’s data privacy policies:

FACT #1:  DJI created the market for ready-to-fly civilian and commercial drones almost two decades ago and has invested heavily in robust safety and security protections as well as expanded user data privacy controls for our products.

FACT #2: Customers only share flight logs, images or videos with us if they affirmatively choose to do so. Default collection does not exist with us.

FACT #3: Operators of our consumer and enterprise drones can choose to ‘fly offline’ through Local Data Mode, ensuring that no unauthorized parties can get access to their drone data.

FACT #4: Since 2017, we have regularly submitted our products for third-party security audits and certification. These U.S. and European cybersecurity experts buy our products off the shelf and conduct the review independently. Their findings validate that we provide best-in-class data security and data privacy protections.

For additional information on data privacy protection offered to all customers, or to learn more about how DJI implements – and in some cases even exceeds – the guidance set forth by government memo, click here.

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