DJI, world’s biggest drone company, could be banned in the US

The US Congress plans to prohibit Chinese drone manufacturer DJI from conducting further business activities in the country. DJI produces drones for various purposes, including general consumer use, delivery services, agriculture, and content creation.

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While DJI’s drones are widely used and not inherently considered harmful, Congress remains sceptical, given that Chinese state-owned enterprises hold a 6% stake in the company. New York Senator Elise Stefanik expressed concerns about the national security risks associated with DJI, stating, “DJI presents an unacceptable national security risk, and it is time to remove drones made by Communist China from America.”

If the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adds DJI to its blocklist and the proposed bipartisan legislation is passed, DJI will be prohibited from conducting any further business in the US. This could significantly impact DJI’s market share, which stood at 58% as of 2022, according to Tom’s Hardware.

Stefanik introduced the Countering CCP Drones Act in 2022, citing concerns that American government agencies have found DJI drones collecting information about critical US infrastructure for China.

DJI refuted these claims in a blog post titled “Get The Facts: Countering CCP Drones Act,” stating that their drones cannot collect data without user consent. Users can even operate the drone while their phone is in flight mode, completely disconnecting the app from the Internet, similar to an air-gapped computer.

Although DJI’s drones were not designed for combat, they gained popularity during Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, being used by both sides. The New York Times reported that the DJI Mavic drones were widely used during the early stages of the conflict due to their strong radio link and user-friendly controls.

This led to accusations that DJI’s drones were being used to commit human rights abuses, prompting the manufacturer to close flagship stores in both countries and suspend direct sales operations.