Congress Should Restrict Federal Use of Chinese Drones


Congress Should Restrict Federal Use of Chinese Drones

August 8, 2023

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This piece originally appeared in the National Interest.

With the House of Representatives’ passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, Congress is poised to take another step to prohibit the government’s use of drones produced by Chinese companies. There’s a growing bipartisan consensus that government agencies should not operate surveillance drones with ties to adversary governments.

The current language of the FAA reauthorization bill would prohibit the Transportation Secretary from using Chinese or Russian drones to inspect FAA infrastructure. Last month, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) announced a similar, bipartisan plan to restrict the FAA’s use of drones, noting the FAA’s ownership of more than a dozen Chinese drones.

This critical step continues actions taken to reduce federal usage of Chinese drones following warnings from multiple government agencies. In 2017, the Army stopped using drones produced by the Chinese company DJI Technology Co. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) followed in 2019 with a security alert warning about the potential cybersecurity risks of using Chinese drones. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act then took the vital step of banning the Department of Defense’s use of foreign-made drones, and the Interior Department grounded its Chinese drones in 2020.

Continue reading in the National Interest.

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