President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 18 to prevent the U.S. federal government from using drones manufactured by foreign adversaries, including China.
“Reliance on UAS and components manufactured by our adversaries, however, threatens our national and economic security,” the president said in the order, warning that information collected by drones could be “accessed by or transferred to foreign adversaries.”
These components include sensors, cameras, software, and artificial intelligence technologies.
Therefore, Trump said U.S. taxpayers’ money should not be used to fund federal procurement of drones that “present unacceptable risks and are manufactured by, or contain software or critical electronic components from, foreign adversaries.”
Under the executive order, all heads of U.S. government agencies need to submit a report—including information such as the manufacturer of the drones they own or operate—to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) within 60 days.
DNI, after reviewing these reports, will have 180 days to submit a report to the U.S. President. The report will include steps that need to be taken to address the security risks posed by these foreign drones, including their removal from federal use.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall then work with different agencies to identify possible funding to replace the existing drones.
Under close scrutiny are drones made by DJI, a private company headquartered in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and the world’s biggest maker of commercial drones.
Last April, DJI wrote on its website that it distributed 100 drones to 45 police, fire, and public safety organizations in 22 states as part of its disaster relief program against COVID-19. One of the police departments identified was the Daytona Beach Police Department in Florida.
The senator wrote: “This virus originated in Communist China and the Chinese Communist Party’s lies helped it spread around the world.
“Now we’re using drones made by a Chinese company and backed by the CCP to enforce social distancing. This is crazy!”
“We can no longer turn a blind eye to Communist China and allow their technology into some of the most critical operations of the U.S. Government,” Scott stated.
The U.S. Army, Pentagon, and Department of Interior have banned and grounded Chinese-made drones over spy risks.