Trump directs federal agencies to assess security risks from Chinese-made drones

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing U.S agencies to assess security risks linked to Chinese-made drones used by American government fleets, prioritizing their removal.

The executive order directs all U.S. agencies to outline the security risks posed to the existing government drone fleet from drones built by Chinese companies or by other countries deemed foreign adversaries, including Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The order also directs U.S. agencies to outline “potential steps that could be taken to mitigate these risks, including, if warranted, discontinuing all federal use of covered (drones) and the expeditious removal of (drones) from federal service.”

In December 2020, the U.S. Commerce Department added China’s SZ DJI Technology Co, the world’s largest drone maker, to an Entity List along with dozens of other Chinese companies.

DJI’s spokesman declined comment.

In October 2020, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt had ordered a halt to additional purchases of Chinese-made drones by the department.

In May 2019, the Department of Homeland Security had warned U.S. companies of risks to company data from Chinese-made drones.

In a notice, DHS had said 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.”

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