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Are drones used by the U.S. government spying for China?

Are drones used by the U.S. government spying for China?
© Vladvitek | Dreamstime

More and more people are buying drones for fun. Most are using them casually to get great shots at their kids' soccer game. Some realtors are even depending on them for great exterior home shots.

But the U.S. government uses drones for much more serious reasons, like high-level security work. Is that safe for our homeland security?

Using drones for top-secret missions can pose a risk, especially if there’s suspicion information that's being gathered is being shared with another country.

What D.J.I. is accused of

The U.S. government believes the popular drone making company D.J.I. is sending sensitive information about America’s infrastructure to China through its commercial drones and software.

Of course, D.J.I. is denying the allegations, but the Immigration and Customs Enforcement L.A. Bureau said it had “moderate confidence” that D.J.I. is “providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”

ICE won't identify its source but calls it reliable. The ICE memo specifies that the concern is over drones used by companies and institutions, not the ones flown as a hobby.

D.J.I. released its own statement saying the report was “based on clearly false and misleading claims.” The company also said ICE got its facts wrong and should consider withdrawing or at least correcting its unsupportable assertions.”

More about D.J.I.

D.J.I. dominates the drone market in the United States and Canada, according to drone research firm Skylogic Research. Expanding beyond hobbyists, D.J.I. now targets commercial customers like contractors, police and realtors.

How to protect sensitive data

Drones aside, an even bigger issue the United States, China and other countries have is how to secure all of the data that commercial technology companies are absorbing. Remote sensing technology, infrared scanners, cameras and tracking systems plus drones are all the tools those thinking of espionage need. American intelligence and lawmakers are now talking about how companies and governments should manage the data they collect.

China has its concerns, too, and passed a cybersecurity law recently that calls for companies like Microsoft and Apple to store data within China’s borders. Apple agreed and said it’ll build a new data center in China.

Drone crashes into a commercial jet for the first time

Due to a drone crashing into a commercial jet, Canada is worried about other safety measures centering around drones. Click here to learn more about the incident.

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