BREAKING: More Shots Fired in U.S. – China Tech War, Implications for Commercial Drone Industry

The U.S. – China tech war has had major implications for the commercial drone industry.  Now, AirForce veteran and aerospace attorney Dawn Zoldi of P3 Tech Consulting explains the impact of the latest development, an Executive Order signed on January 5, 2021.

Written by Dawn M.K. Zoldi, Guest Contributor*

 Additional shots have been fired in the ever-expanding U.S. – China tech war, with potential implications to the commercial drone industry.

On January 5, 2021, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13971, Addressing the Threat Posed by Applications and Other Software Developed or Controlled by Chinese Companies, which prohibits persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States (U.S. citizens/residents and corporations) from transacting with persons that develop or control Chinese connected software applications or their subsidiaries. These prohibitions kick in 45 days from publication.

This latest order is based on a national emergency: the threat posed by “Chinese connected software applications” (software, a software program, or group of software programs, designed to be used by an end user on an end-point computing device and designed to collect, process, or transmit data via the internet as an integral part of its functionality) through which the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party have allegedly been accessing personal electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, and computers). According to the Order, they are doing so to cull “vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information.” This could allow China to, among other things, “track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information.”

While the EO specifically names Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office, it directs the Secretary of Commerce (USDOC) to identify other “transactions and persons that develop or control the Chinese connected software applications” which would also be subject to the prohibition.  DJI develops both apps and software. Will the popular commercial drone company be on that list?

The order directs USDOC to do a couple of other things too, including to recommend how to prevent the sale or transfer of U.S. foreign adversaries’ access to user data, whether through export control regulations, policies or otherwise and to continue to “evaluate Chinese connected software applications that may pose an unacceptable risk to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States, and to take appropriate action in accordance with

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