Drones Are Grounded Due to Claims of Espionage
Thu, April 22, 2021

Drones Are Grounded Due to Claims of Espionage

**Good morning Frances. I saw that you set the date of your article on Nov. 30, 1999, almost 21 years ago and not the date the article supposed to. Please change the date of this article to what day this supposed to be published. Thank you.**

 

Scientists and other people are waiting on the fates of the drones. /Photo Credit: rawf8 (via Shutterstock)

 

Drones save lives, map terrain, survey land, and inspect pipelines, according to Tara McKelvey of British broadcasting news channel BBC. But many of the drones are developed by Chinese companies, and they are now grounded because they could be used to spy on individuals in the US, said David Bernhardt, the head of the US Department of the Interior, a federal agency that is responsible for managing national parks and other duties. Scientists and others at the said federal agency had been deploying drones for years, but it is suspected that they could be used for espionage. Bernhardt is currently examining the agency’s civilian drone program to determine whether or not it should be continued. Agency spokeswoman Melissa Brown said many of the drones are grounded. In a statement she sent to the BBC, she wrote, “Until this review is completed, the secretary has directed that drones manufactured in China or made from Chinese components be grounded."

She emphasized drones that are used to fight fires and rescue people are still allowed. Bernhardt’s review of the drone program clearly shows how the US is concerned about Chinese technology and espionage. President Donald Trump said its leaders have “cheated” the US, accusing the country that its intelligence agents are spying on people. Chinese officials denied President Trump’s accusations. But for these two countries, the fight is not over yet as the drones are now the epicenter of the US-China dispute. Many of the drones used by US scientists are manufactured by DJI, a company that is presently dominating the drone market, stated Skylogic, a research company.

DJI executives argued that their drones are trustworthy. However, DJI Technology Inc.’s spokesman Michael Oldenburg told BBC there is no “credible evidence to support a broad country-of-origin restriction on drone technology". Adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations agreed, “I doubt the Chinese government is using the drones to conduct massive surveillance."

Fidler and others acknowledged it is impossible to find out how much information is being collected by the drones. We have yet to see the real assessment from the secretary of the interior. For now, scientists and others wait and wonder about the drones’ fate.