- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A member of the Federal Communications Commission wants to kick-start the process of thwarting the Biden administration from spending taxpayer dollars on Chinese drones from a company blacklisted by the Trump administration and warned about by President Biden’s Pentagon.

Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, said Tuesday he wants to begin adding Chinese drone-making giant Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) to the FCC’s Covered List, which he said would block the Biden administration from using certain federal funds to acquire the drones.

Mr. Carr sounded the alarm that DJI poses a threat akin to Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that came under fire during the Trump administration amid concerns about electronic spying through its telecommunications equipment in support of the Chinese Communist Party.

“I think what we’re seeing right now with DJI is the potential for Huawei on wings, and we don’t need an airborne version of Huawei,” Mr. Carr said on Strand Consult’s podcast “China Tech Threat.” “And when you look again at just the vast amounts of sensitive data — body temperature, heart rate, high-res images of critical infrastructure — that can be collected and then couple that with the Chinese national security law and the concerns already expressed by components of the federal government about the access to this information by Beijing, there is enough there where I am very concerned.”

The Biden administration this year pursued and bought commercial surveillance drones manufactured by DJI, ignoring a warning from the Pentagon about ‘cybersecurity concerns’ and paying no attention to the Trump-era blacklist.

The Secret Service bought eight commercial surveillance drones, according to internal government procurement records reviewed by The Washington Times.

The FBI also sought DJI drones this year and made a purchase from Adorama Inc., which sells DJI products via the internet, according to a purchase order on a government website.

Mr. Carr said in a statement that news reports of the Secret Service and FBI purchases made clear the need for quick action by the FCC. He said the federal government does not have a consistent and comprehensive approach to addressing potential threats from DJI.

He also said the FCC’s review in consultation with national security agencies should also consider whether other entities merit more scrutiny from FCC.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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