More than half of Americans want to ban DJI drones. Or at least that’s according to one study.
Alexandria, Virginia-based international public affairs firm The Hawthorn Group commissioned a study gauging people’s opinions about drones. And of the 801 completed telephone interviews, 54.7% of Americans effectively admitted they wanted to ban DJI drones.
Now it wasn’t DJI outright. The participants were asked whether Chinese-made drones should be banned from U.S. businesses and individuals (not calling out DJI specifically).
But still, only 45.3% of Americans didn’t think a ban was necessary.
An even higher 71.3% of Americans said Chinese-made drones should be banned from U.S. government agencies, and still, an even higher 83% of Americans said that concerns about security with Chinese manufacturers were valid.
There’s been a bit of hysteria around Chinese-made drones, particularly after a 2017 memo from the U.S. Army came out stating that it would discontinue use of DJI drones due to “cyber vulnerabilities.” That’s on top of a 2016 report when a DJI employee said in a briefing to journalists that the company had been sharing customer data with the Chinese government, though the company later clarified that information was only handed over if there was a valid legal request from the government.
A 2019 study of public safety professionals found that while more than half of respondents said they were either “somewhat concerned” or “extremely concerned” about alleged security vulnerabilities surrounding Chinese drone technology, more than half of respondents also stated that their department or agency intended to purchase a DJI brand drone within the next year.
Of course, poll results aren’t necessarily indicative of truth. This poll was conducted by phone interview, meaning participants needed to be willing to answer their phone and have a conversation. Studies show these results end up skewing to an older demographic, since those are the people who may be more willing to respond to such a poll.
And many Americans might not realize that DJI is a Chinese company, not a U.S.-based company. It might be that sleek, Apple aesthetic.
And whether or not the company is Chinese might not actually matter. Shared data with Chinese authorities is, according to the New York Times, required of all companies doing business there. California-based Apple said it received 1,005 requests for data in the second half of 2015 from Chinese authorities and supplied data 66% of the time. And in the U.S., Apple received 4,000 requests for data from authorities during the same period and provided data 80% of the time.
Of course, any attempt for any other, non-Chinese drone maker to take a significant amount of market share is close to futile. In another study, a whopping 88% of Americans said they would rather purchase a drone from a U.S.-headquartered company. Yet, Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, which is known for its Mavic and Phantom drones, has a 76.8% market share in the U.S.