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US Homeland Security memo accuses DJI of spying on behalf of China

DRONE MAKER DJI has been accused of spying on behalf of the Chinese government by US Homeland Security.

The allegation was made in a leaked bulletin by Los Angeles office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE), which warned that the drone firm could be targeting certain government and private entities “to collect and exploit sensitive US data”.

The memo states that US officials have a “high confidence” that the data DJI is accused to be automatically uploading to cloud systems could allow a government to “easily coordinate” both cyber and physical attacks against some of the nation’s most critical sites.

“According to the source of information, DJI automatically uploads this information into cloud storage systems located in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong, to which the Chinese government most likely has access,” the ICE bulletin says.

“SIP Los Angeles assesses with high confidence a foreign government with access to this information could easily coordinate physical or cyber attacks against critical sites.” 

The leaked memo also accuses DJI of collecting facial recognition data via its mobile apps regardless of whether the feature is on.

But of what use would this data be to China? According to ICE, DJI is focusing its attention on the US’ critical infrastructure such as utility companies and railways systems, as well as law enforcement agencies, gathering GPS data and images, etc.

“The Chinese government is using DJI UAS as an inexpensive, hard-to-trace method to collect on U.S. critical assets, according to the source of information,” the document says. “The Chinese government directorates most likely receiving the data from DJI’s cloud are the offices responsible for defense, critical infrastructure, traffic controlling, and cyber offense.”

The memo continues: “SIP Los Angeles assesses with high confidence that outside of DJI’s goal to attain law enforcement customers, DJI’s criteria for selecting accounts to target appears to focus on the account holder’s ability to disrupt critical infrastructure.”

Naturally, DJI strongly rejects the claims of the ICE, and in a statement to the New York Times, DJI said, “The allegations in the bulletin are so profoundly wrong as a factual matter that ICE should consider withdrawing it, or at least correcting its unsupportable assertions”. µ

Source : Inquirer

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