Despite the Trump administration blacklisting DJI – a controversial Chinese technology company – several branches of the federal government under have purchased drones from the firm under President Joe Biden.
DJI Innovations – formerly Da Jiang Innovations Science – currently leads the world’s market drone market, first catching the attention of U.S. intelligence officials in 2015. The organization has admitted complying with Beijing’s data requests, leading the U.S. Army to ban their use in 2017, citing cyber vulnerabilities.
The office of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Los Angeles sent a memo stating officials have “moderate confidence” DJI’s commercial drones and software are “providing US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”
Now, America is buying these drones again, giving the Chinese Communist Party yet another entry into U.S. federal infrastructure.
The purchases follow the appointment of two high-profile Biden campaign officials who previously worked for a consulting firm lobbying for DJI: Senior Spokesman for Biden Inaugural Committee Matt Hill, and Director of State Communication Meira Bernstein.
Following stints at the Global Strategy Group, Hill began serving as the Senior Associate Communications Director, and Bernstein is now Deputy Assistant Secretary for Media Operations at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Deleted client lists from the Global Strategy Group’s website reveal the firm working on behalf of DJI.
As Axios notes, the Secret Service bought eight DJI drones on July 26th, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) purchased 19 drones a few days earlier.
In contrast, under the Trump administration, the DHS – the Secret Service’s parent agency – asserted that DJI was “providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”
The New York Times reported on a 2016 DJI press briefing in China where company spokesman Zhang Fanxi described how DJI “is complying with requests from the Chinese government to hand over data”: