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DJI drone ban zooms closer to reality, leaving UAV fans in a flap

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a ban on the future sale of DJI drones, potentially reshaping the drone market in the U.S. and raising questions about national security and protectionism.

Compact 4K drone resting on human hand.
Image: DJI

In a move that’s set to shake up the drone scene, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a ban on the future sale of DJI drones, making the “Countering CCP Drones Act” a whole lot closer to becoming law.

If the bill gets the Senate’s stamp of approval and President Biden signs it, it’ll mean no more DJI drones can be sold in the U.S. – a major blow to the company that currently dominates over 70% of the global drone market.

The ban is part of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and it’s all about those national security fears surrounding DJI’s ties to China.

Lawmakers are spooked that DJI drones could be used to snoop on Americans and feed intel back to the Chinese government, given that 6% of DJI is owned by Chinese state-backed firms.

There are also concerns that DJI’s success is lining China’s pockets, which doesn’t sit well with U.S. lawmakers looking to curb China’s economic clout.

The “Countering CCP Drones Act” specifically aims to bar the FCC from handing out new licenses to DJI and its affiliates, effectively blocking the sale of DJI drones in the States.

But here’s the thing – the bill wouldn’t affect DJI drones that folks have already bought. So if you’ve got a DJI drone, you can keep on flying it. But if you were eyeing a new DJI model, you might be out of luck soon.

The move has sparked a heated debate, with some arguing it’s a necessary step to safeguard national security, while others see it as an overreaction that’ll just hurt U.S. drone enthusiasts and businesses that rely on DJI’s high-quality drones.

There are also questions about whether the ban is more about trade tensions with China than actual security threats.

DJI has pushed back against the security concerns, saying they prioritize data privacy and security. They point out that data transmitted between the drone and controller is protected by AES-256 encryption.

But despite DJI’s assurances, fears persist. There have been reports of DJI drones being used to map critical infrastructure, which has raised red flags about potential sabotage risks.

And let’s not forget that DJI drones have been used in the conflict in Ukraine, which hasn’t exactly helped ease concerns about their potential misuse.

As the Senate weighs the bill, DJI fans are holding their breath. If the ban goes through, it could totally reshape the drone market in the U.S. DJI’s dominance would take a hit, and other manufacturers might see an opportunity to fill the gap.

But for now, it’s a waiting game. Drone enthusiasts are urged to reach out to their Senators to make their voices heard if they oppose the ban.

The DJI drama is just the latest example of the ongoing tech tensions between the U.S. and China. As the rivalry heats up, we can expect to see more moves like this aimed at curbing the reach of successful Chinese tech firms.

But with so much at stake, the big question is – where do we draw the line between legitimate security concerns and protectionism masquerading as national security? Stay tuned, folks. This one’s far from over.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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