Can Chinese-made drones covertly collect data on foreign sources for the government? The US Department of Homeland Security seems to think so, raising “strong concerns” in a recent DHS alert obtained by CNN.
The alert, amid an expanding trade war and increasing paranoia between the two super powers, claimed that Chinese-made drones have the ability to share data to a separate server that is not controlled by the manufacturer, sparking security concerns similar to the current Huawei 5G impasse.
However, according to the Business Insider, it is highly unlikely that live video feeds from Chinese-made drones could be shared with a foreign government, while audio feeds are ruled out as most drones aren’t equipped with microphones.
Also, some drone software can save snippets of video and information such as flight and operations data, revealing where, when and why a drone was used. Hardly anything valuable that could be used by China or any foreign government in the realm of espionage.
While specific manufacturers were not singled out, it is widely known that China’s DJI based in Shenzhen, holds a significant (70-75%) majority of worldwide drone market share.
DJI, in an effort to play down the controversy, said that customers can easily choose options that would protect their data. “We give customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted,” the firm said in a statement to the BBC.
Yuneec — the next bestselling Chinese manufacturer — also said that it gives users full control of their data, the BBC reported.