Global Drone Leader DJI Announces “Government Edition”

On June 24, DJI, the global leader in drone technology, announced the release of its DJI Government Edition which is complete with the most secure and stringent security measures to protect drone data. While DJI asserts that its other drone models are completely secure when it comes to data transfer, in a press release the company states, “Government Edition’s unique architecture ensures that drone data – including photos and videos captured during flight – never leave the drone and therefore can never be shared with unauthorized parties including DJI.”

The release of the Government Edition follows previous scrutiny from the U.S. Government that Chinese-made drone technology was vulnerable to malicious intent, saying, “The United States government has strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access.
Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made UAS-connected (unmanned aircraft systems) devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities.”

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While DJI is not specifically named, the Shenzhen-based company is the undisputed leader in commercial drone technology, and would be affected by this statement. In the press release, DJI stated that they, “developed the solution to meet the needs of the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services, which operated more than 10,000 drone flights in 2018 alone.” This is a clear attempt by the company to reassure the United States and the rest of the international community that their enterprise drone technology is secure and trustworthy.

Mario Rebello, Vice President and Regional Manager of North America at DJI, commented, “This is DJI’s most secure drone solution to-date because it prevents users from accidentally or even intentionally transferring data off of the drone to other parties. By incorporating these assurances into its architecture, the Government Edition solution meets the rigorous data security expectations of government agencies, and provides them the safety, reliability, and ease of operation that DJI’s products are respected for by commercial drone pilots around the world.”

Specifically, DJI outlined the new features of the Government Edition:

  • No Data Transmission – A permanently enabled Local Data Mode within the custom DJI Pilot application prevents data transfer from the mobile application over the internet to third parties or to DJI.
  • Firmware Update Reviews – Government agency aviation and IT departments can review firmware updates in electronic isolation before applying them to their fleets, and have full control over how to validate them and when to install them on DJI drones.
  • Restricted Hardware Pairing – Drones and remote controllers running Government Edition solution firmware can only be linked with each other and are not compatible with other DJI products, preventing the use of unsecure hardware and unauthorized third-party applications.