U.S. warns companies of data threat from Chinese-made drones

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned U.S. firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones, according to a notice reviewed by Reuters on Monday.

The notice, titled Chinese Manufactured Unmanned Aircraft Systems, warned that U.S. officials have “strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access.”

A spokesperson for the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency confirmed that it “recently released an industry alert providing organizations with information related to the … risks associated with using [unmanned aircraft system] technology manufactured in China and measures to reduce such risk.”

The notice, which did not name any companies, was reported earlier by CNN.

It urged companies to “be aware of whether your [unmanned aircraft system] data is being stored by the vendor or other third parties. If it is being stored, find out how, where, and for how long.”

Consumers have ‘complete control’

This is the latest concern raised by the U.S. government about the threats of Chinese-made devices.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei Technologies and 68 affiliates to an export blacklist — a move that bans American firms from buying parts from the telecom giant without U.S. government approval — citing the risk to U.S. national security.

China’s SZ DJI Technology, the world’s largest maker of consumer drones, said in a statement on Monday that “the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses.”

The company added that it gives “customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted.”

It said that for government and critical infrastructure customers, “we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the internet.”

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