Chinese drone-maker DJI comes under US scrutiny | Tech Wash

Chinese drone-maker DJI comes under US scrutiny | Tech Wash

Of all the big Chinese tech
companies doing business here in the US, one has so far flown
under the political radar, so to speak. DJI makes 70 per cent of the
drones sold across the US every year. And yet it has escaped
the kinds of scrutiny that have been imposed
on other Chinese tech companies such as Huawei. One reason for that
is the company’s tech. There simply isn’t another
maker on that scale of commercial drones. But another is that DJI is
extraordinarily well plugged in in US political circles. Its executives sit on
key regulatory bodies. It has teams of experts ready
to jump at a moment’s notice should anything go wrong with a
drone owned by the government. And it has even
worked hand in hand with a Department
of the Interior to develop a drone
made specifically for the US government. Now all that might be changing. I’ve had several conversations
with people in the Trump administration over
the past few months who have said that
they are concerned that the photographs taken
by millions of DJI drones across the country could
provide a treasure trove of data for the Chinese to use for
spying, should they wish. So far, nothing
much has happened. But the Department
of the Interior has grounded its
entire fleet of drones, including 121 made by DJI, while
it investigates whether they pose a security threat. And senators are considering
applying a complete ban to federal government on
buying the company’s drones. But so far, this is
one big Chinese company that can still get a
hearing here in Washington. Now each week I’m going to
answer one reader question. And this week, it
comes from Stefan. And it’s on the subject of
Twitter’s recently announced ban on political advertising. Stefan asked, “How do you define
political advertising compared to ordinary advertising? A Greenpeace, for example,
is also political, so should that be
banned as well?” Well, Stefan, this is one
reason why Facebook has not followed suit, at least so far. It is very difficult to define
the boundaries of what counts as a political advert
and what doesn’t. This is something that Elizabeth
Warren is very concerned about, for example. She tweeted earlier
this week that she was worried that under this
ban a company like Exxon might be able to advertise
about its oil business but a group campaigning against
climate change might not. Now so far we don’t know if
that’s going to be the case or not. Jack Dorsey, the
Twitter CEO, has said he will announce the full
set of rules later this month. But one thing is
clear – whatever he announces on the
15th of November, someone is going to
be very angry indeed. Thanks very much
for your question. And if you have a
comment or a question you’d like me to answer
in next week’s vlog, please leave it in
the comments below.

Eugene Islam

3 thoughts on “Chinese drone-maker DJI comes under US scrutiny | Tech Wash

  1. Although understandable, is it reasonable and even possible for the US to scrutinize each and every Chinese company doing their business in the US? And what will be the political ramifications be, since the Chinese can do the same with US companies based in China?

  2. Any fake lawsuits on theft and violations yet? What happened to those against Huawei? Announced with fanfare a year ago. What happened to those?

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