The analysis, released in August and made public only recently, outlines legitimate concerns from an unnamed, yet high-placed source that DJI is spying on American citizens on behalf of the Chinese Government.
A memo from an office the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the ICE (short for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement), accuses famous drone-building company Da Jiang Innovations (DJI, for short) of leaking sensitive American data and intelligence with the Chinese government. This piece of writing was first produced in August but only found its way in the digital environment in recent days. In it, the ICE declares that DJI has engaged in spying activities on China’s behalf, sending them back very relevant information pertaining to law enforcement authorities and infrastructural projects.
The ICE based in L.A., California has stated that they are moderately confident in the truth of their accusation, which has been declared to be sourced from a reliable asset in the drone industry that has both direct, and indirect access to the information. This asset was not named by the memo.
The document details the criteria by which DJI single out accounts for syphoning data, explaining that they appear to take an interest in parties involved in media, railroad development and maintenance, education, law enforcement on federal levels, farming, and weapon & ammunition storage units, taking a particular interest in the accounts of companies and institutions in this sector and their respective capacity to enact disruptive measures on important infrastructure.
The memo further details the methods by which drones owned by DJI are able to extract sensitive citizen data, particularly through employing their built-in facial recognition software to function and analyze even in offline mode, through tagging locations and GPS images to the information they take, and accessing citizens’ mobile devices remotely. This permits the drones to take biographical and personal details, such as complete names, birthdates, pictures, mobile numbers, videoclips, online credentials (passwords and usernames), account information.
This information is sure to be directly uplinked to cloud storage devices and units owned by China. It could be further used by their respective authorities to engage in physical or online combat with the United States, as explained by the ICE document.
DJI has contested ICE’s accusations, making a public statement to the New York Times in which it explains that they had no valid grounds whatsoever, outlining their obvious falsehood by explaining it is not within their drone’s capabilities to do such things, recommending an online search to people who do not have the relevant tech knowledge.
The Chinese company goes on to publicly request that ICE withdraw the report, demanding that they at least rectify its allegations.