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DJI responds publicly to its US blacklisting

DJI's latest drone. (Source: DJI)
DJI's latest drone. (Source: DJI)
The drone-maker DJI is one of the latest companies to be placed on the US Administration's Entity List. The OEM has reacted with a bemused message posted to its official Twitter account, in which it denies doing anything to warrant this action, and to do all it can to limit its effect on its customers, suppliers and other business partners.

Most recently, the US government has reportedly added no fewer than 60 new names to its Entity List, a sanction imposed in order to prevent the firm in question sourcing goods or services from American-based suppliers as normal. The latest round of companies to join this group are all reportedly Chinese, and include the chipmaker SMIC and DJI.

The latter has taken to its Twitter channel for an official line on this new move by the Trump administration. Its statement on the matter has a tone of wounded puzzlement that borders on the blind-sided by the decision.

Nevertheless, it remains that the company has been linked to potentially shady practices in the past, especially where they concern its user's private data. The security analyst groups GRIMM and Synaktiv have released reports with findings that one of its Android apps that connect its products to an owner's smartphone contains an SDK "which collects the user’s private information and transmits it to MobTech, a Chinese analytics company".

Furthermore, the app in question has also been linked to "command-and-control"-esque behaviors (like those of some malware) so as to force updates. It may also collect sensitive information such as a user's phone's IMSI and IMEI numbers, which can then be sent (albeit not necessarily are sent) on to malicious or adversarial parties.

Reports such as this have resulted in a ban imposed on the use of DJI hardware within the US' military in the past. Despite this, DJI insists that it has always "focused on products that save lives and benefit society".

DJI's statement on this latest development. (Source: DJI Global via Twitter)
DJI's statement on this latest development. (Source: DJI Global via Twitter)
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Deirdre O'Donnell, 2020-12-23 (Update: 2020-12-23)