The US Department of the Interior, which oversees federal land and resource management, says it bases its entire drone air fleet of over 800 UAVs on concerns about Chinese espionage and cyber attacks with the help of drones. The news was first indicated by The Wall Street Journal today, and the department confirmed the grounding The edge.
Every drone used by the Interior Department is manufactured in China or uses a number of parts made in China, the WSJ reports. Interior Minister David Bernhardt placed the order earlier today, and the drones remain grounded until the department carries out an assessment of the security risks they may present.
"Secretary Bernhardt assesses the drone program of the Ministry of the Interior. Until this assessment is completed, the secretary has determined that drones made in China or grounded from Chinese components are used, unless currently used for emergency purposes, such as fighting forest fires, searching and rescuing, and dealing with natural disasters that can kill life threat or ownership & # 39 ;, reads a statement from Melissa Brown of the Ministry of the Interior The edge.
Many of the drones are currently being used by the department to fight forest fires, monitor dams and floods, inspect land for property and environmental damage due to erosion and monitoring of endangered species. Part of the concern is focused on whether the drones can be used to transmit data, including photography and video, of sensitive US infrastructure that could be the subject of future cyber attacks, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The move is the latest US government escalation in its endeavor to punish Chinese companies for years of alleged trade secret theft, despite the fact that the US buys billions of dollars worth of products and equipment from Chinese companies every year.
US lawmakers last month introduced an account that would prevent federal agencies from buying drones from China, which could have a major impact on the activities of the Chinese drone giant DJI. Federal agencies have warned about the use of DJI products in the past, but the company has never had a complete ban. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Homeland Security also warned against the use of drones made in China in federal capacity.
Aside from the drone market, the Trump administration has been making great efforts since the beginning of last year to completely eliminate the Chinese telecom giant Huawei to operate in any capacity in the US, out of similar concerns about national security. And depending on the ongoing trade war between the US and China, these steps have had a significant effect on Huawei's activities and relationships with key partners such as Android steward Google, with Huawei losing its Android license and the ability to access Google Play apps.