U.S. Cities Enforce Social Distancing With Drones — Donated by China
Written by Luis Miguel
A number of police departments around the country are using drones manufactured by a company with ties to the Chinese government in order to enforce COVID-19-related lockdowns, prompting concerns from experts who say the drones may serve as a way for the east Asian communist regime to spy on the United States.
Already, 43 law-enforcement agencies in 22 states are surveilling Americans with the help of drones made by China’s Da Jian Innovations (DJI), ensuring citizens remain in their homes and observe social-distancing rules.
“Should people be concerned? Yes. Everyone should always be concerned,” says Brett Velicovich, former Army intelligence worker and author of the book Drone Warrior.
While DIJ denies it has any motives beyond altruism in its donation of drone technology to U.S. law-enforcement agencies, many — from lawmakers to watchdog groups to drone experts — say America’s reliance on Chinese technology to monitor its own citizens could lead to disastrous national security consequences.
Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for DJI Technology, doesn’t agree.
“Some people are trying to score ideological points by discouraging the use of important equipment and tools that save lives and protect American first responders,” he asserted.
DJI, based out of Shenzhen, China, is the world’s largest and most well-known drone manufacturer.
The company was started in 2006 by Frank Wang, who was then still a college student at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. In less than a decade, the firm rose to the top of its field, growing to a workforce of 14,000 and making nearly $2 billion in 2017 alone.
Experts in drones say DJI’s success has come as a result of the quality of its product and its relatively low price point. Competitors such as America’s GoPro lag far behind in success. Velicovich estimates that DJI’s market share is between 87 and 90 percent.
Due to the size of the company’s profits and the number of its employees, it automatically falls under the eye of the Chinese government. Yet DJI claims it does not spy on Americans and that users have the option of preventing their devices from transmitting data.
“All DJI customers have complete control over any photos, videos and flight logs they generate during their operations,” Lisberg said. “None of this data is ever transferred to DJI or anyone else unless they deliberately choose to do so.”
But an expert with close ties to the intelligence community told Fox News that data could be collected without the awareness of even DJI employees — only Wang and the Chinese government would know.
Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. intelligence officials were concerned enough about DJI to order the entire fleet in its possession grounded.
Early in February, the Interior Department issued a no-fly order taking all of its drone fleet out of the sky — a move many believe was aimed at China. This was a follow-up to a temporary order issued in 2019 that arose from concerns of potential espionage. The Wall Street Journal reported that all 800 of the department’s drones were either made in China or built with Chinese parts.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt instructed U.S. officials to favor drones built domestically, fearing the data collected by them could be “valuable to foreign entities, organizations and governments.” However, Bernhardt said the government would make exceptions for search-and-rescue operations and emergencies in which human lives are at risk.
And last year, the Department of Homeland Security sent an alert about how Chinese-made drones are possible security risks whose data can easily be hacked or stolen and that constitute a danger of “potential use for terrorism, mass casualty incidents, interference with air traffic, as well as corporate espionage and invasions of privacy.”
But the pandemic has sidelined those concerns at the local level, opening the way for the Chinse company’s drones to populate American skies. It’s a situation that has many citizens worried.
“It’s about China’s long-term goal, not COVID,” said Barry Bryer, a Virginia resident who flies drones. “People will give away their right to privacy because of the coronavirus, but do they know what they are signing up for?”
Velicovich, meanwhile, urged America to heed the warnings of the intelligence community about Chinese-made drones.
“I can tell you that U.S. intelligence knows the impact of their reports and if they are saying that this is going back to the Chinese, then there is something there,” he said.
The news comes as some state and local governments seek to monitor and control citizens’ activities to keep them in line with social-distancing protocols.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is urging the city’s residents to snitch on neighbors who do not obey stay-at-home orders (after he already threatened to shutter churches and synagogues that meet in violation of his ban on gatherings of more than 10 people).
And some state governments, such as New Mexico’s, are hiring companies to use citizens’ cellphone data to track their movements and determine whether they’re really social distancing.
While it’s certainly alarming that American law enforcement is using Chinese technology to spy on fellow Americans — a fact that should be considered in the question of whether China’s dissemination of the virus was deliberate — the bigger problem is that we’re allowing our own government to surveil us in the first place, whether by using Chinese-made or American-made equipment.
Sadly, as history has repeatedly shown, many are all too willing to hand over their rights at the first sign of a crisis.
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.
Courtesy of The New American