The tech war between the US and China had a significant impact on the commercial drone industry. Now AirForce veteran and aerospace attorney Dawn Zoldi of P3 Tech Consulting explains the implications of the latest development, an executive order signed on January 5, 2021.
Written by Dawn MK Zoldi, guest author *
More shots were fired in the widening technology war between the US and China, which could have a potential impact on the commercial drone industry.
On January 5, 2021, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13971 to Combat Threat from Applications and Other Software Developed or Controlled by Chinese Corporations, prohibiting individuals under United States jurisdiction (U.S. Citizens / Residents and Corporations )) of transactions with persons who develop or control software applications related to China, or their subsidiaries. These bans come into effect 45 days after publication.
This latest order is based on a national emergency: the threat of “Chinese related software applications” (software, software program, or group of software programs used and developed by an end user on an endpoint computing device) data over the Internet as an integral part of their data Collect, process or transmit functionality) through which the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party allegedly accessed personal electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, and computers). According to the Order, they do this to “remove vast amounts of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information”. This could enable China, among other things, to “track the locations of federal employees and contractors and create dossiers of personal information.”
While the EO specifically names Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay and WPS Office, it instructs the Minister of Commerce (USDOC) to identify other “transactions and individuals who develop or develop the China-related software control applications ”, which would also be subject to the ban. DJI develops both apps and software. Will the popular commercial drone company be on that list?
The mandate instructs USDOC to do a few other things, including recommending how to prevent the sale or transfer of foreign US adversaries’ access to user data, whether through export control regulations, guidelines or otherwise, and continues to ” Chinese Related ”to evaluate software applications that may pose an unacceptable risk to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States and take appropriate action in accordance with Executive Order 13873. “
Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019 to secure the supply chain for information and communication technology and services (ICTS), prohibited transactions and use of certain “information and communication technologies or services” (hardware, software or other products or services that are included in primarily intended) to fulfill or enable the function of information or data processing, storage, retrieval or communication by electronic means (including transmission, storage and display), in which a property is involved in which a third party is involved Country or a national thereof interested in and the USDOC and several other heads of federal agency have determined:
The Transaction includes ICTS that are designed, developed, manufactured or supplied by persons who are owned, controlled by, or under the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary, and the Transaction:
(A) poses an unreasonable risk of sabotage or reversal of the design, integrity, manufacture, production, distribution, installation, operation, or maintenance of any information and communications technology or service in the United States;
(B) poses an unreasonable risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resilience of the United States ‘critical infrastructure or the United States’ digital economy; or
(C) otherwise poses an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security of persons in the United States.
Both EOs were issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), the National Emergency Act, and legal delegation authorities. The implementation of both orders is still pending. The USDOC published a notice on November 27, 2019 regarding the creation of public rules on the original ICTS regulation. The 30-day comment period was extended to the beginning of January 2020. Although only sixty-eight comments have been received, this rule remains open a year later. (https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=DOC-2019-0005). With this timeline and the impending change of power, it is unlikely that much will be done in the short term.
In recent years, the DJI government has targeted DJI through various bans on China’s drone policy, granting tapes, and more recently, the company’s blacklist. The final effects of this latest maneuver – and the collective effects of these others – remain to be seen. In the meantime everything works as usual … but on standby for incoming messages.
* The views and opinions contained in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of the DOD. They do not represent the approval of an organization named here and are not intended to influence the actions of the federal authorities or their employees.
Dawn MK Zoldi (Col., USAF, retired) is a licensed attorney and a 25-year Air Force veteran. She is an internationally recognized expert in the law and politics of unmanned aircraft systems, a columnist for Law-Tech Connect ™ for Inside Unmanned Systems magazine, recipient of the Woman to Watch in UAS (Leadership) Award 2019 and CEO of P3 Tech Consulting LLC.
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.