I’m a drone pilot, addicted to flying, editing and producing drone content. It’s been 6 years and this week I’ve decided to sell all my DJI drones and stop using them. It is not easy to Say no to DJI. But it’s like Dumbledore says there will come a time when we have to decide to do what is right instead of what is easy.
Just do it. Why? Because I said so. And I know what I am talking about. Actually I don’t know anything you can’t read on the web. But I do know a-lot about flying drones. And DJI’s monopoly over our airspace. So here’s my story. And here is information to support it. Down below at the link
What the drone lady knew
In 2016 she was so proud to get her FAA Part 107 license. And flying drones became a serious addiction. DJI were the first company I and everyone else began to use. GoPro started something with the Karma and I loved it. Since the controller was made so well, the GoPro’s that were carried on it were regular Hero7’s and it all seemed to be going the right direction with two drone companies in that space.
But we all realised something was wrong when the awesomeness of the ‘free market economy’ in the drone space was squashed and seemed to die in it’s infancy.
What alternatives were there? Has it ever been possible to say NO to DJI?
Back Ground. Real Estate Agents and Marketing companies all began to want drone footage. In 2016 it was on fire. I jumped in deep and successfully. Never looked back. Florida Keys Drone Pros was born and started to rock the area.
THEN ONE DAY I ENCOUNTERED THESE TERMS ‘UNLOCK GEO ZONE ‘NO FLY ZONE AUTHORISATION’ ‘DJI UNLOCK’
The worst thing is you know it is wrong. Giving all your information to the Chinese company Dai Jing Innovations and you know they have to give over everything to the Chinese Government. And who then have access to all this footage you’ve made. I felt like I was being a spy for the Chinese Government. I always knew when I was forced to do the first ‘unlock geo zone’ that this whole drones in the USA being controlled by a company a foraging company and government, was WRONG on two main levels.
- EVENT – representatives of Florida government and news entities doing a drone shoot of a big haul out of debris from Hurricane Irma.
- GOAL – to launch the drone and film the haul out. I have an ‘unlock authorisation’ from China, already. But the unlock application was not working. I had to talk to someone in China, via email, of course, to get the thing unlocked and allow me to fly over the site of the trailer being pulled up out of the canal at Key By The Sea near marathon International Airport.
- EVIDENCE – the representative was interested in what I was doing and asked why it was not able to get closer. I explained the Chinese have control of our airspace to the point that they can put a geo-fence that restricts the movement of the drone to the millimetre.
- CONCLUSION – after that frustrating experience where we finally got the drone flying in the right area, I realised it was NOT ok to use drones made in China, that could gather this much information from citizens and entities within the USA. For starters the personal information exchanged in order to get the drone flying is absolutely reasonable if it is a US company. But to give Chinese sovereignty in the USA by handing over my drivers license, all my personal information is just not acceptable. It should not be required. But I did it because it is hard not to Say no to DJI when there is little alternative.
- AWAKENING – Not long after my first year of flying, NOAA & FWC stopped using drones to map and track for research. I only heard this from a friend who had been using my skills to monitor re-growth of an area of critical concern in the Dagny Johnson State Park.
Fast forward to 2021 and I just ordered my first EXO drone. I have NO expectations of this learning curve being simple, or easy or intuitive. Simply because I’ve been through DJI’s convoluted systems. And believe me they are convoluted.
I’ve learned, from years of practice not to expect streamlined user experiences. I stay with it because I love making drone footage and flying drones. I love the licensing and the FAA knowledge tests and being one of a handful of drone women making a living with this shit.
But the end of my relationship with Da Jiang Innovations starts now. Simply because I don’t trust a company with those kinds of feelers inside our country.
I AM TELLING YOU SAY NO TO DJI
DAILY SIGNAL & THE SPECTRE OF DJI DRONES
Chinese-Made Drones in US Are Spying on Us. Congress Must Put an End to This.
Cybersecurity experts have found that drones made by the Chinese manufacturer DJI—a popular brand in the United States—have collected private information from users without their permission or knowledge. Pictured: A DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter drone. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
John Venable, who served 25 years in the Air Force, is a senior research fellow for defense policy at The Heritage Foundation.
It’s a basic concept of national security: Don’t invite a hostile nation to imbed its gifts into the innermost sanctums of your society.
That was true long before the Trojans wheeled the Greek’s gift of a horse into the city of Troy some 3,000 years ago, and it is no less true today. Still, like so many lessons from history, we are learning it again with Chinese drones.
Unmanned aircraft systems, better known simply as “drones,” are used much more commonly throughout the U.S. than one might expect, and are now essential assets for the military, law enforcement, emergency services, infrastructure, and especially agriculture.
In the last few days of the Trump administration, the president signed an executive order designed to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from being used to procure drone technology that is produced by foreign adversaries. The president was essentially saying, “Don’t give our enemies the keys to our kingdom, and if you already have, take them back.”
And yet, the Biden administration may disregard the magnitude of this threat and move to revoke that executive order and its commonsense approach to security.
In recent years, the number and type of drones flown by the government, industry, and the general populace have exploded, growing from 2.5 million to 7 million in just the last five years.
When combined with the accompanying advances in camera and other sensor technology, the amount of information drones can amass has grown exponentially. These systems can now collect and transmit terabytes of data, including images of people, buildings, and critical infrastructure that are caught in those frames, tagging the locations of everything they capture with the incredible fidelity of GPS.
The issue lies not so much in the information the drones collect, but in the fact that images and data collected by well-meaning Americans can then be transmitted unknowingly to hostile entities and governments. This introduces a large and largely unknown security risk.
The vast majority of drones owned and operated in the United States are manufactured by Chinese corporations, the largest of which is Da-Jiang Innovations, or DJI, as it is more commonly known in North America. Many of those drones are being employed by federal, state, and local agencies and departments in and around some of the most critical activities and infrastructure we possess.
It is important to remember that all companies in China are required by law to give the Chinese Communist Party access to all of their information, despite any disingenuous protests to the contrary. That means that Chinese technology is anything but secure, and its employment by government agencies presents a risk to our national security.
One ominous example is DJI’s gift of 100 Chinese-made drones to law enforcement and emergency service agencies throughout the U.S. to monitor social distancing and public interactions during the COVID-19 outbreak. This overtly generous gift placed those drones in our heartland, and they are now being employed in ways that are eerily similar to the way they are flown in the totalitarian state of China—all the while collecting terabytes of images and data.
And there is little question where the data and images collected by those DJI drones and their supporting systems are going.
Last year, two different cybersecurity firms, one American and one French, reverse-engineered DJI applications. Both firms found that the apps collected an individual’s private information without their permission or knowledge and transmitted that data back to the developers in China.
The connective tissue between those Chinese developers and the Chinese Communist Party, coupled with that government’s duplicity, present an insidious threat—one that elements of our government have thus far received with open arms.
This goes beyond the concept of a Trojan horse in that the Chinese have wooed U.S. government entities into doing their collection for them. It is the equivalent of banks asking known thieves to design and build their vaults. For the sake of the security and continued prosperity of this nation, the link must be broken.
President Joe Biden should not just endorse the Trump administration’s executive order on drones, but should also encourage Congress to include its provisions of that order in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. This is wake-up call for America, and we can’t afford to miss it.
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