Politics & Policy

Dem. Rep. Backs GOP Probe into Chinese Tech Firm that Donated Drones to U.S. Police

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, holds a copy of the Constitution while speaking during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., December 12, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Reuters)

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) on Wednesday indicated that she backed a GOP-led probe into a Chinese drone maker that has donated drones to U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Last week, Republican representatives on the House Judiciary Committee opened the probe into Da Jiang Innovations, which manufactures roughly 80 percent of drones on the market in the U.S.

DJI announced in April that it would donate drones to police forces across 22 states to help enforce social distancing measures, despite U.S. intelligence agencies’ suspicions that the Chinese government can access data collected by the drones.

“I think the answers that have been requested to the Department of Justice and to the Department of Homeland Security should be responded to immediately,” Lee, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “The very fact that these are Chinese-made products, I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to understand that you may be utilizing it but you can be assured that China may have access to the data that’s being collected just by their very nature.”

The Republican committee members’ investigation is probing whether the Justice and Homeland Security departments are monitoring the use of DJI drones. As early as 2017, the DHS warned that the drones were “selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive U.S. data.”

DJI spokesman Adam Lisberg has disputed claims that the company’s data can be used for spying.

“False claims that our drones spy on people or send data to China actually risk interfering with public safety efforts to protect people and communities,” Lisberg told National Review last week.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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