Lawmakers Trying to Ban Chinese-Made Drones…Again

Lawmakers Trying to Ban Chinese-Made Drones...Again

Chinese-made drones remain one of the federal government’s big boogeymen. Now, House lawmakers are making another effort to ban China-made drones.

The House of Representatives Committee on China says the U.S. government needs to stop using any drones coming from China, The Financial Times first spotted Wednesday. This bill, called the American Security Drone Act, was introduced to the floor on Wednesday. It’s being spearheaded by a bipartisan group of representatives from the committee who are consistently miffed about China’s drones being used worldwide not just for commercial purposes but in modern wars. The bill would cut off any federal agency from buying more tech that some intelligence leaders say could impact national security.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told FT that the purchase of Chinese drones supports the “[People’s Republic of China’s] malign behavior” while “posing a serious national security threat to the U.S. and our allies.”

As described in the report, the new bill is a copy of an earlier effort by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the head of the Senate intelligence committee, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). That legislation is a rider on the Senate version of the upcoming defense spending bill.

Efforts to ban Chinese drones are a cross-party issue, and it’s caught on in some states as well. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis backed a Florida bill that banned drones from China, especially the big player Shenzen-based DJI. The thing is, local police use these Chinese drones, and they were rather miffed at being forced to buy faulty U.S.-made drones instead.

DJI remains the big, unspoken bugbear keeping security officials up at night. DJI makes up close to 90% of the U.S. commercial drone market. It’s become an extremely popular company among state and local police forces as well as federal agencies. The company continues to claim it doesn’t have links to Beijing, though U.S. lawmakers cite how the drones have been used by Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine and now in the ongoing conflict with Israel and the West Bank.

Fear of these big communist drones isn’t a new thing. U.S. security officials have been warning about Chinese drones for years. DJI is already on several of the Biden administration’s investment blacklists. Some agencies like the U.S. Department of the Interior have banned buying Chinese-made drones.

Concerns arise from whether the drones could be feeding information back to the Shenzhen-based company, and whether that information then gets picked up by the Chinese government. DJI has routinely said that drones can be flown without connecting to the internet.

The U.S. is still on a Chinese tech company kick, especially concerning ByteDance, which owns TikTok. While multiple state governments and federal agencies have banned the social app on government devices, Congress has yet to pass any exacting legislation on the Chinese company.

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