The Washington Post has recently reported that DJI, the renowned drone manufacturer, has received funding from several state-backed investors tied to the Chinese government. Despite denying these claims in the past, documents found on state-owned websites and analysis conducted by a research group called IPVM suggest that DJI has indeed received funding from four investment bodies with affiliations to the Chinese government. These findings shed new light on the ties between DJI and the government in Beijing, which have remained hidden for years due to the company not being publicly traded and therefore not required to disclose its investors. This revelation raises concerns regarding privacy and security, particularly for government agencies that use DJI drones, as they may need to replace their drones with alternative options in the future.
DJI and Chinese Government Funding: A New Revelation
In recent news, it has been revealed that DJI, the leading drone manufacturer, has received funding from investors tied to the Chinese government. This revelation comes after years of denial from DJI regarding its financial ties to the Chinese government. Reporters from the Washington Post have reviewed documents found on state-owned websites and analysis conducted by a research group called IPVM to uncover this information.
Investors Tied to the Chinese Government
The investigation has revealed that several state-backed investors have provided funding to DJI. One of the investors is a state asset manager who has expressed intentions to promote partnerships between private enterprises and the Chinese military. The four funds tied to the Chinese government that have invested in DJI include Guangdong Hengjian Investment Holding, SDIC Unity Capital, Shanghai Venture Capital Guidance Fund, and China Chengtong Holdings Group. These funds are overseen by various government entities such as the Chinese government, China’s State Council, the Shanghai Municipal Government, and Beijing’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).
DJI’s Response and Privacy Concerns
DJI’s Lack of Response
Surprisingly, DJI has remained silent in response to these allegations. Despite the Washington Post’s article being published a week ago, DJI has not issued a statement on its website or social media accounts. This lack of response is unusual considering DJI’s history of vehemently denying privacy concerns and government ties in the past.
History of Privacy Concerns
DJI has been under scrutiny for privacy concerns since 2017 when the U.S. Army banned the use of DJI drones due to allegations that the drones were collecting and sending user data back to DJI without consent. Over the years, there have been various accusations and leaked memos suggesting that DJI was involved in collecting sensitive information and sharing it with the Chinese government. DJI has consistently responded to these accusations and concerns by taking measures to address privacy issues.
DJI’s Efforts to Address Privacy Concerns
In response to the allegations and concerns, DJI has taken steps to address privacy issues. In 2017, DJI released Local Data Mode, which allows drone pilots to fly without any data being shared. They also hired a consulting firm to review their privacy practices, and the resulting report cleared DJI of malicious or negligent data sharing practices. DJI has also released a line of drones called Government Edition, which is designed to ensure complete privacy of data. These efforts were aimed at addressing privacy concerns and restoring trust among drone users.
Implications for DJI Drone Owners
No Major Implications for Average DJI Drone Owners
For the average DJI drone owner, this revelation does not have any major implications. DJI drones can still be used for recreational or professional purposes without any significant changes. However, it is important for drone owners to be aware of the privacy concerns surrounding DJI and take appropriate steps to protect their data if they have any concerns.
Potential Impact on Government Agencies
The implications of this revelation are more significant for government agencies that use DJI drones. The state of Florida, for example, has recently released a list of drones approved for government use, and DJI drones are not included. This situation presents a challenge for governmental agencies, especially public safety agencies that heavily rely on DJI drones. If these agencies are not provided with the funds to replace their DJI drones, it could result in a loss of drones for emergency responders in the coming years.
Continued Use for DJI Drone Owners
Despite the recent revelation of DJI’s ties to the Chinese government, there are no major implications for average DJI drone owners. They can continue to use their DJI drones for recreational or professional purposes without significant changes. It is essential for drone owners to stay informed about privacy concerns and take necessary precautions to protect their data if they have any concerns.
Possible Consequences for Government Agencies
On the other hand, government agencies that use DJI drones may face consequences due to DJI’s ties to the Chinese government. The exclusion of DJI drones from approved government drone lists poses a challenge for these agencies, particularly public safety agencies. Without adequate funding to replace their DJI drones, there is a possibility that emergency responders may lose their drones in the future. It is crucial for these agencies to explore alternative drone options and secure necessary funding to ensure the continuity of their operations.