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US lawmakers are introducing two new measures to stop the US government from purchasing and operating drones made by China.
The first bill is the “American Security Drone Act,” and it seeks to ban the federal government from using American taxpayer dollars to purchase or operate Chinese drones, which reportedly account for over 50% of all the drones sold in the US.
According to Cybernews, most of those drones are from DJI (a Chinese company) and are being used by multiple US public safety agencies. Florida Senator Rick Scott who spearheaded the legislation said that he has been talking for years about the risks of using Chinese-made drones for the United States’ national security, for fear of spying and gathering intel.
The American Security Drone Act would apply to local and state governments and prohibit them from buying Chinese drones using any federal funds. It would also require local and state agencies to file a federal report detailing their current inventory of commercial off-the-shelf drones and unmanned aircraft systems obtained from other countries identified as national security threats. Lastly, the bill would give agencies a timeline to end their current use of foreign-made drones.
Several agencies (like the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice) would be exempt from the bill’s prohibitions under conditions specified in the bill, while agencies could apply for a waiver on a case-by-case basis.
Furthermore, the Act prohibits the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from buying or operating drones produced specifically in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, or Cuba.
Many lawmakers think the bills will help to boost the drone manufacturing industry in the US, with Senator Mark Warner saying that the US should “lead the world in drone production and investment”.
Warner also stated: “Our reliance on drones from foreign adversaries like the People’s Republic of China, which has shown time and time again it will do whatever it takes to get its hands on sensitive American data, is extremely risky.”