Senators fear drones over Washington pose China spy threat

Senators are growing concerned that a series of Chinese-made drones in restricted airspace over Washington, DC could be a new form of espionage, Politics reported.

The drones are produced by Chinese company DJI and are designed with ‘geofencing’ restrictions to keep them away from sensitive locations. But they are used through simple workarounds to fly over restricted areas in Washington.

This has raised concern among lawmakers and federal officials and drone experts have made presentations to the Senate Homeland Security, Commerce and Intelligence Committees. A spokesman for the intelligence committee declined to comment on the briefings, and the other two committees did not respond.

Officials who spoke to Politics On condition of anonymity, they did not believe that the Chinese government was leading the drone swarms, but that they marked a new turning point in the rise of drones that can be used for recreational and commercial purposes.

“Any technology product originating in China or from Chinese companies presents real risk and potential vulnerability that can be exploited both now and in times of conflict,” said Senator Marco Rubio, vice chairman of the Senate committee. intelligence. “But anything technological has the ability to have vulnerabilities embedded in software or actual hardware that can be exploited at any time.”

DJI said it has no control over what users do with its products once they purchase them.

“Unfortunately, while DJI makes every effort to identify and notify our customers of areas they cannot fly in, we cannot control end-user behavior,” said Arianne Burrell, communications manager for DJI Technology, Inc.

“It can be just innocent data collection — or just looking around, seeing what’s going on — and not systematic,” said Rachel Stohl, vice president of research programs at the Stimson Center. Politics. “But the potential, of course, is that they could possibly be more dangerous.”

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Gary Peters recently introduced legislation that would allow the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, as well as state and local law enforcement, to detect and counter drones. considered a security threat.

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