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Tipsheet

Feds Appear to Be Completely Ignoring the Pentagon's Advice About This Potential National Security Threat

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Federal law enforcement agencies reportedly purchased surveillance drones from a company that the Pentagon has deemed a potential national security threat. 

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According to Axios, the Secret Service and FBI recently bought the drones from DJI, a Shenzhen-based company. The Secret Service’s purchase of eight drones and the FBI’s purchase of 19 drones came just days after the Department of Defense warned DJI products “pose potential threats to national security.”

While the [DJI] products are used for personal and commercial purposes, they also require the user to download proprietary DJI software, and to fly using mapping databases that have the potential to be monitored remotely.

Security concerns surrounding these products are longstanding, but DJI insists all such concerns are unfounded and based on misunderstanding or misrepresentation of its technology.

In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security — the Secret Service's parent agency — stated with "moderate confidence" that DJI was "providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government."

In 2019, the Interior Department, which also uses DJI products, grounded its entire non-emergency drone fleet because of concerns about Chinese government intrusions.

The Commerce Department added DJI to an export blacklist last year after Bloomberg reported it had supplied surveillance technology to Chinese security forces in Xinjiang, where millions of Uighur Muslims have been forced into internment camps. (Axios)

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While DJI refutes the claims, Republican lawmakers are calling the feds' latest purchases unacceptable. 

"Given everything we know about the Chinese Communist Party and its companies, there is absolutely no excuse for any government agency to use DJI drones, or any other drones manufactured in countries identified as national security threats,” Rubio told Axios in a statement.

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