DJI is hoping its drones go dark for 'sensitive operations'

DJI drones are getting an internet off-switch for privacy

DJI's flight control apps often communicate over the internet to access the most relevant maps, geofencing data and other relevant information for flight safety. "Due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products, it is directed that the US Army halt use of all DJI products", the memo read.

DJI recognizes the importance of data privacy to its customers.

DJI has said that it does not collect images or flight logs unless users share them, but the new local data mode will prevent any accidental syncing.

Chinese drone maker DJI is rolling out a new "local data mode" in an effort to bulk up the security of its hardware in the wake of a US Army memo that claims DJI's products contain unspecified vulnerabilities.

"We are pleased about how rapidly DJI's customer base has expanded from hobbyists and personal drone pilots to include professional, commercial, government and educational users", said Jan Gasparic, DJI head of enterprise partnership.

DJI is a Chinese company and the USA government has long had fears of Chinese manufacturers installing spyware or backdoors into products, giving them access to classified and sensitive data.

Pakistani club cricketer Zubair Ahmed dies after being struck by bouncer
Former Australian Test opener Phil Hughes had died after being hit on the neck during a Sheffield Shield match in November, 2014. Cricket has been rocked by the death of young Pakistani batsman Zubair Ahmed after he was hit on the head by a bouncer.

DJI noted in the August 14 news release that the company does not collect or have access to user flight records, photos, or video unless the user syncs with DJI servers, uploads photos or video to the DJI Skypixel website, or sends the actual drone to DJI for service.

It appears that DJI has since been working on ways to offer better security protections to its enterprise customers.

"We are creating local data mode to address the needs of our enterprise customers, including public and private organisations that are using DJI technology to perform sensitive operations around the world", company VP for Policy and Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman said in a press release, per TechCrunch.

Naturally, this announcement has caused some concern for drone nay-sayers, and I can somewhat see where they are coming from.

DJI says it has been developing its local data mode for "several months", and it will be rolled out in the next several weeks. DJI's apps include DJI GO, DJI GO 4, DJI XT Pro, DJI Pilot and Ground Station Pro, which run on smartphones and tablets that control the drone or connect to the drone's remote control unit.

While local data mode will prevent data from being shared with anyone over the Internet, DJI said, it will also block the receipt of updated maps, geofencing information, flight restrictions and software updates.

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