No Chinese-Made Drones with Infrastructure Funding

data privacy for dji Chinese-made dronesPolitico reports that Sens. John Hoeven and Richard Blumenthal have introduced a proposed amendment to the massive U.S. infrastructure bill.  The proposed amendment would  “block funds for technology purchases from going toward buying Chinese-made drones,” says Politico.

The proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill includes $500 million to upgrade and improve the nation’s ageing transportation infrastructure: funding that could significantly benefit the drone industry as drones emerge as a leading tool for infrastructure inspection and development.  Senators say that the amendment is necessary to ensure that the funding is not spent on Chinese-made drones, which the Pentagon claims pose a security risk to the U.S.

The amendment would prevent the funding from being used to purchase drones from “an entity, a subsidiary or affiliate of an entity that is subject to influence or control by … the Government of the People’s Republic of China; or … the Chinese Communist Party.”

On Twitter, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that the issue of using infrastructure bill funding to purchase Chinese technology was a “huge problem”:

The news is the latest move by the U.S. in the ongoing effort to limit government exposure to Chinese technology, and to boost the domestic drone industry.  The Pentagon has moved to restrict the purchase of Chinese-made drones, including those produced by the world’s largest drone manufacturer DJI, with government funding.  The Department of Defense Innovation Unit has also developed a list of five “trusted” drone solutions, substantially made in the U.S., which meet the DoD’s functionality and security needs.

In addition to limiting the government use of Chinese technology, the U.S. has made clear moves indicating that drone manufacturing is now a critical national capability, providing some U.S. drone industry companies with CARES Act funding during the pandemic and investing heavily in research projects with U.S. based drone manufacturers.