Elizabeth, New Jersey’s use of Chinese-made DJI drone restarts national security debate of Chinese made equipment.

black dji mavic drone

Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

The city of Elizabeth, New Jersey is deploying DJI amanufactured drones to enforce social distancing guidelines. Specifically, the drones will be deployed to warn Elizabeth citizens who are found to be outdoors and issue verbal warnings such as “Stop gathering, disperse and go home”.

I previously mentioned in this blog about prior US governmental use and the contents of an memo that claimed DJI’s commercial drones are giving sensitive US “infrastucture and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.” In fact, the U.S. Army has banned the use of all DJI drines since 2017.

In response, DJI claims full control of their drones belong to their owners and that no information is transmitted back to China. Since the outbreak of the corona virus, DJI has donated to 43 agencies across 22 states to enforce social distancing.

DOJ’s ‘China Initiative’ to investigate and prosecute Chinese companies for FCPA violations.

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84th US Attorney General – Jeff Sessions. Source: justice.gov

As released on the justice.gov website on November 1st, then acting Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “China Initiative” fact sheet on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website.

The purpose of the China Initiative is in response to several Trump administration reports that showed concern regarding China’s trade practices and “various acts, polices and practices of Chinese industrial policy uses in seeking to acquire the intellectual property and technologies of the world and to capture the emerging high-technology industries that will drive future growth”.

The release also explains in detail the National Security Division (NSD): “The National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for countering nation state threats to the country’s critical infrastructure and private sector. In addition to identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage, the initiative will increase efforts to protect our critical infrastructure against external threats including foreign direct investment, supply chain threats and the foreign agents seeking to influence the American public and policymakers without proper registration.”

According to the release, the goals of the China Initiative include:

  1. — Identify priority trade secret theft cases, ensure that investigations are adequately resourced; and work to bring them to fruition in a timely manner and according to the facts and applicable law;
  2. — Develop an enforcement strategy concerning non-traditional collectors (e.g., researchers in labs, universities, and the defense industrial base) that are being coopted into transferring technology contrary to U.S. interests;
  3. — Educate colleges and universities about potential threats to academic freedom and open discourse from influence efforts on campus;
  4. — Apply the Foreign Agents Registration Act to unregistered agents seeking to advance China’s political agenda, bringing enforcement actions when appropriate;
  5. —Equip the nation’s U.S. Attorneys with intelligence and materials they can use to raise awareness of these threats within their Districts and support their outreach efforts;
  6. — Implement the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRMA) for DOJ (including by working with Treasury to develop regulations under the statute and prepare for increased workflow);
  7. — Identify opportunities to better address supply chain threats, especially ones impacting the telecommunications sector, prior to the transition to 5G networks;
  8. — Identify Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases involving Chinese companies that compete with American businesses;
  9. —Increase efforts to improve Chinese responses to requests under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA) with the United States; and
  10. — Evaluate whether additional legislative and administrative authorities are required to protect our national assets from foreign economic aggression.

If you have any concerns about whether your Chinese company will have issues or be subject to scrutiny under the new DOJ “China Initiative”, call experienced FCPA attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.