Featured NewsTrending NewsInnovation, Not Legislation!


27 February 2024

By Chris Fink, Founder and CEO, UVT

Say it with me, “We need innovation, not legislation!”

Again, louder! “We need innovation, not legislation!”

If you’re like me, the current state of affairs with American politics and their attempted onslaught against DJI and Chinese drones is maddening. Known on The Hill as H.R.2864, the Countering CCP Drones Act is nothing new.

It was initially introduced in February 2022 by Senators Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Tom Cotton as a “next step” after they failed to get the American Security Drone Act passed. [Note: It did pass recently, but as part of the NDAA with loads of exemptions—thanks to immense outreach by operators.] It was shrouded in misinformed quotes without any factual evidence of a threat. After all, the connected device whose screen is in front of you has more than half of its components sourced from China. Your Amazon Echo is hand built in Shenzhen. I could go on.

And yet, some lawmakers continue to pursue anti-Chinese drone legislation.

As made clear in the other articles comprising The Droning Company's news and opinion series, the way H.R.2864 is currently written focuses solely on one manufacturer—DJI. 

Such focus is baffling (and frustrating), because DJI goes above and beyond to ensure its equipment follows all best practices—most of which are outlined by the United States Federal Government. The United States Department of Commerce—through the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cryptographic Module Validation Program—even recognized DJI’s Core Crypto Engine as meeting the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2.

Is DJI a threat to national security? What is this company and where did it come from? Let's look into that...

The Origin of DJI

DJI was founded in 2006 by Frank Wang while he was studying at the Hong Kong Institute of Science and Technology. The first DJI prototypes were built and distributed to universities and commercial organizations out of Wang's college dorm room.

Using the proceeds from those sales, Wang moved DJI to the technology mecca of Shenzhen and hired a few employees. At first, the company struggled. Wang was—and still is—known to be an absolute perfectionist, and that desire for perfection led to some attrition among the first employees at DJI. When times got tough, and Wang needed money to expand the business and hire more talent, he turned to a family friend, Lu Di, who invested $90,000 and began managing the company's finances.

The background here is needed, because my favorite quote of all regarding the Countering CCP Drones Act was from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who said, “DJI drones pose the national security threat of Huawei, but with wings.”

Someone who compares DJI to Huawei is clearly misinformed.

• DJI—a company founded by a college student in a dorm room that manufactures niche products within one of the smallest markets within consumer electronics.

• Huawei—a company that manufactures telecommunication equipment and was founded by a former Deputy Regimental Chief in the People’s Liberation Army. 

Are Chinese Drones the Only Data-Security Concern?

We live in the Internet of Things, and we are never going back. In the Internet of Things, all of our devices are connected—watch a few videos on Apple's new Vision Pro augmented-reality goggles, and you'll see what I mean—and data security and privacy have never been more critical. If we're going to legislate, let's at least build it around common sense and best practices for securely connecting ANY device, foreign or domestic.

I want America to set the standard in drone-data security, and the only way to do that is to ensure that devices made anywhere in the world are used in a highly secure manner every day.

In short, DJI drones are just one small subset of a much-larger connected world. 

Legislation Devastates Competition

We need innovation, because legislation such as the Countering CCP Drones Act does just as little for American innovation as it does to protect America’s data.

Country of origin-based legislation—or legislation focusing on a single manufacturer—doesn’t open the door for American drone companies to fill the void. It opens the door for other foreign entities to swoop in and take its place.

Why? Because truly American-made drone technology—not foreign-made parts glued onto a Chinese-made airframe like many “Made in the USA” drones—is scarce. American drones lack many of the features and functionalities required by the bulk of the missions being flown today, and they are expensive. Very expensive.

What’s worse?

No manufacturer in the United States can produce at scale. Why else would one of the largest—and certainly the loudest—American manufacturers spend millions on Chinese batteries manufactured by Xiamen Ampace Technology Limited?

Do you know who else spends millions on Chinese batteries manufactured by Xiamen Ampace Technology Limited? DJI. Yet, here we are.

I urge lawmakers to stop legislating drones out of the hands of those who need it most, and instead build ways for American drone companies to actually compete and produce drones at scale.

Take Action Now

As a founding member of the Drone Advocacy Alliance, I urge you to speak out for your right to choose the best technology for your mission.

Your mission could be to go on fun trips with your family and be able to use the cost-effective, easy-to-use DJI Mini 4 to follow your family as they slalom down the slopes.

Perhaps your mission is to start and build a small business performing roof inspections. Or, perhaps you are a police officer, firefighter, dispatcher, teacher, bridge inspector, or one of the hundreds of others who put their lives on the line every day to protect us and keep our world going.

The Countering CCP Drones Act puts your life and the public in danger by ripping the reliable, cost-effective, easy-to-use, and secure drone systems manufactured by DJI out of your hands—and all due to a systemic misunderstanding of the company and technology as a national security threat.

I will not stand for it. I hope you won’t either.

Join The Mission

To take action immediately, use THIS LINK to reach your Representative. After reading through this page and entering your information at the bottom, our system will automatically identify your local Representatives, and you’ll be presented with a draft email and everything you need to reach their offices by phone.

Interested in becoming a partner of the Drone Advocacy Alliance? CLICK HERE. You can also reach out to us via email: info@droneadvocacyalliance.com.

On behalf of the Drone Advocacy Alliance—along with Unmanned Vehicle Technologies and all of the other passionate, hardworking partners of the Alliance—I thank you for your time. I hope we can continue to build a truly competitive drone market that enables us to change the way the world works through drones and robotics. 

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