Bill to effectively ban DJI drones from US skies clears Congress committee hearing

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    A firebrand US House of Representatives legislator who usually rails against the size, cost, and overreach of rights-crushing government is praising the advancement of her bill, which would deny perhaps millions of state agency, business, and police, fire, first responder, and private users the ability to fly their DJI drones across the country. And there are no “alternative facts” to support the motivations for the outrageously restrictive endeavor.

    Elise Stefanik, a New York Representative and MAGA fanatic, praised her anti-China “Countering CCP Drones Act” for moving a step closer to becoming law during its congressional hearing in committee on Thursday. The text proposes amending the “Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019” to expressly restrict DJI technology from accessing the omnipresent Federal Communications Commission and other government-owned infrastructure that UAVs frequently rely on to communicate with pilots.

    Operators would then apparently have the option of relying on the completely dependable, consistent, and utterly rational Elon Musk and his Starlink network as a backup – if they had the millions to pay for it.

    In case anyone has any doubts – including “well, at least she’s one of us” conservative-leaning drone community members who are usually inclined to forgive Republican sins of excess – about Stefanik’s intention to prevent all DJI users from flying in the country’s skies, consider her own explanation of the text’s goal.

    “This legislation would add Chinese drone company Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Covered List, meaning that DJI technologies would be prohibited from operating on US communications infrastructure,” she said in a press release.

    In other words, her H.R. 2864 bill would not do anything so un-American as to prohibit a plane manufacturer from a country she dislikes from operating in the supposedly free nation and market that the United States is so proud of. Instead, it prohibits those aircraft from using any airports, navigation systems, or airspaces associated with the federal government in their operations. This includes everything and everywhere.

    Why not physically secure every DJI drone in the United States to the floor while she’s at it?

    The proposal is the most severe form yet of the blacklisting movement, which has gained traction in Washington and numerous Republican-controlled states in recent years. These efforts, once approved, outlawed DJI and Autel drones because they were developed and manufactured by Chinese corporations. As a result, critics on both sides of the aisle have asserted that such companies are obligated by Chinese law to aid Beijing’s attempts to violate human rights at home and furnish it with leaked user data acquired by their UAVs overseas for the Communist Party’s espionage and planning operations.

    While few people doubt the Chinese government’s ability and determination to advance its nefarious agenda, the problem with those accusations – and the increasingly widespread blacklisting of DJI drones based on them – is that no evidence of alleged data leaking has been provided to back them up. Meanwhile, DJI has frequently rejected these accusations, emphasizing how consumers can simply limit data transfers from craft to secure, hard-wired connections to their PCs.

    Stefanik and her bipartisan drone-banning cohort seem to have missed the coincidence that by legislatively convicting DJI of crimes that DC politicians acting as both prosecutors and judges failed to provide any evidence of, members of Congress have essentially replicated the judicial system in (ahem) China.

    Or perhaps not, given the lack of proof and remarks by proponents of Stefanik’s and prior texts that have subsequently become legislation, the blacklisting campaign appears to be based on commercial rather than security concerns. The goal is to prevent DJI from continuing to sell its market-leading drones by rendering them silent, blind, and deaf due to infrastructure access prohibitions.

    According to protectionist reasoning, existing pilots will be forced to purchase US alternatives that they earlier disregarded as either more expensive, ineffective, or both. Since deploying cops at every retail register in the country to prevent UAV buyers from purchasing the “wrong” type of craft would appear too dictatorial, Stefanik & Co.

    If there is any question about the true economic and commercial foundation and intentions of the nominal security-based ongoing banning effort, observe how the lady herself protests excessively.

    “Over 50% of drones sold in the US are made by Chinese-based company DJI, and they are the most popular drone in use by public safety agencies,” Stefanik said last spring, when she reintroduced the measure after her original bill was ignored by Congress, which opted to adopt a marginally less extreme ban. “This Chinese-controlled company cannot be allowed to continue to operate in the US.”

    Of all, Stefanik and her comrades in the blacklisting campaign cannot chastise DJI consumers for their ridiculous, hazardous, reckless, and undoubtedly Commie-loving judgments about which drones provide the most value for their money. Pilots vote, therefore you don’t want to irritate them even if you use the back door to take the controller from their hands and stomp them to bits.

    The “Countering CCP Drones Act” failed once in Congress before being reintroduced this year, and despite Stefanik’s accomplishment in getting it past committee hearings, it still has a long way to go before becoming law. However, no one should expect elections in November or more moderate, rational minds in Congress to eventually win and overturn the bill’s obvious harm to DJI consumers in the US. After all, earlier blacklist and ban motions had bipartisan support.

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