As my colleague Nick Arama reported in April, Chinese-made drones have been deployed in 22 states to assist local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to enforce “social distancing” guidelines/mandates. The Chinese manufacturer, DJI, donated the drones to 43 agencies within those states. There were concerns in April that DJI may be sending information from the drones to the Chinese Communist Party, based upon a November 2017 New York Times article.
Now Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is highlighting some of the extremely disturbing findings reported in that article, in addition to newer information obtained by government agencies since that time.
Appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Gaetz asserted that DJI drones are part of a Trojan horse spying operation in the United States and that China’s getting a huge assist from our own law enforcement agencies:
China is massively expanding a Trojan horse spying operation in our country, and your local police department maybe unknowingly helping them. The United States Army, the Department of Interior, they banned the use of these DJI drones, citing vulnerability and potential value for other countries.
The Department of Homeland Security wrote a scathing report that said that China specifically goes after local law enforcement. They did so even before the coronavirus so that they can get key information and transmit it to the Chinese government, and then our own Department of Homeland Security wrote that this is precisely the type of information we’re worried that China might sell to terrorists.
Gaetz told Carlson that DJI had reduced their drone pricing by 70 percent “even before the coronavirus,” driving US manufacturers out of the market, then continued:
And, since coronavirus, DJI is openly bragging that they have just donated these Trojan horse gifts to over, you know, 22 states, to over 40 municipalities. When I talk to these municipalities in my own investigation, they say ‘Well, it’s no big deal. We just fly them around the parks and tell people to disperse, or we just make sure folks are social distancing.’ But the information that’s being collected makes our nation more vulnerable, and I believe the Attorney General, under the existing authorities he has under the cybersecurity laws should immediately ground the entire fleet of DJI drones.
Law enforcement officers say it’s no big deal because they’re just flying them around the parks? Are they that dim?
BREAKING: China has infected our law enforcement agencies.
Chinese drones are being used by some US police to enforce social distancing…and likely sending information to China.
China stole our health. Now they threaten our national security.
This must end now. pic.twitter.com/zTU4WmVNKQ
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 5, 2020
The civil liberties aspect alone should be enough to ban the use of these drones by law enforcement agencies to spy on civilians. If that’s not significantly alarming to those in charge of preserving and protecting our rights, perhaps the fact that we’re freely permitting a hostile government – one which has already unleashed a biological agent that’s decimating our economy – to gather a treasure trove of information about where Americans congregate and their traffic patterns and more should raise enough red flags to force action by the administration. We can’t in one breath say China will face severe consequences for their actions while in the next give them unfettered access to valuable data they can sell to the highest bidder to fund their next disastrous bat soup experiment.