Is the U.S. really going to ban DJI drones?

The future is uncertain for anyone using a DJI drone in the U.S. at the moment. The U.S. federal government has already taken steps to ban TikTok and DJI is next in line for action.

What has the U.S. government done?

Last week the Senate passed a bill which will force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to sell off the platform. To speed up the introduction of the law, the bill was included with a foreign aid package that has now been signed off by President Joe Biden. As a result, ByteDance has only nine months to sell off TikTok or the app will be banned in the U.S.

Why does this affect DJI?

The government has long-standing concerns over some of the Chinese companies operating in the U.S. Last month the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill that could result in the Countering CCP Drones Act becoming law. The Act will add DJI to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) list of companies designated as threats to national security. If this happens, DJI technologies would be prohibited from operating on U.S. communications infrastructure.

What happens next?

“The New York Times” reported that the Countering CCP Drones Act might progress further in the next month or so. If it does become law, then DJI drones couldn’t be operated legally in the U.S. However, it’s likely that DJI will take legal action to fight any moves to ban its products. ByteDance is already planning to challenge the law requiring it to sell off TikTok, saying that it is “unconstitutional.” This will delay the sell-off even if it doesn’t cancel it all together.

What we think

It’s a worrying time for the many professional and consumer drone users who fly DJI products in the U.S. Despite assurances from DJI, the U.S. Government still has concerns that the company and its data can be manipulated by the Chinese government. There are some legitimate grounds for these concerns. However, DJI disputes these accusations. Also, restricting trade to protect U.S. businesses against Chinese imports may also be a factor. Whatever the reasons for the pending bans on Chinese companies, the drone market in the U.S. is on edge.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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