Letter on Countering CCP Drones Act: Public Safety Concerns

Letter to Senate Armed Services Committee highlights severe impact on public safety operations

In a letter sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee today, the California Fire Chiefs Association, representing over 800 fire agencies in California, along with public safety advocacy groups DRONERESPONDERS, the Law Enforcement Drone Association (LEDA), AIrborne Public Safety Association, and other first responder advocacy groups voiced strong opposition to the inclusion of the Countering CCP Drones Act in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY2025. The letter arrives ahead of the Senate’s scheduled discussion on June 12, 2024, and outlines significant concerns over the potential repercussions of the act on public safety drone operations.

Key Points of Concern

The Countering CCP Drones Act, introduced by Representative Elise Stefanik, seeks to address national security concerns by adding DJI, a major Chinese drone manufacturer, to the FCC Covered List. This action would empower the FCC to retroactively revoke all DJI licenses without needing Congressional approval, effectively dismantling approximately 90% of all public safety drone operations. The letter highlighted that this would not only affect military personnel but also jeopardize the safety and livelihood of communities across America.

“The Countering CCP Drone Act is harmful because it overlooks the immediate operational needs of public safety agencies, compromising first responders’ ability to respond effectively to emergencies,” the letter states. “The over-reliance on unproven alternatives to established Chinese drone technology is impractical and dangerous. Simply put, we have not yet reached parity with China.”

Potential Impacts on Public Safety

The letter emphasizes that banning DJI drones would disrupt critical public safety operations. The association argues that a balanced approach is necessary—one that addresses security concerns without an outright ban on DJI drones, which have not demonstrated any impropriety in published reports and are essential in saving lives and deescalating volatile situations daily.

The association also references the Drones for First Responders (DFR) Act, another legislative effort by Representative Stefanik. This act proposes tariffs on Chinese drones to fund a grant program enabling police departments to purchase non-Chinese drones and invest in American drone technology. However, the letter contends that the success of the DFR Act is contingent on the exclusion of the Countering CCP Drones Act from the NDAA.

Unintended Consequences and Recommendations

The letter from public safety groups warns that including DJI on the FCC Covered List would eliminate tariff revenue needed to subsidize the higher costs of American drones. They also highlight the unrealistic assumption that other Chinese drone companies, like Autel, would compensate for this loss.

The association urges lawmakers to consider the broader implications of the Countering CCP Drones Act on public safety. They call for a strategy that balances national security concerns while safeguarding American lives—a balance they believe the current version of the act fails to achieve.


In closing, the letter underscores the need for careful consideration of the Countering CCP Drones Act’s impact on public safety. The association expresses readiness to collaborate with lawmakers to develop a strategy that addresses security concerns without compromising the effectiveness of public safety operations.

“We are ready and willing to collaborate closely with you to develop a strategy that balances national security concerns while safeguarding American lives—a goal that the current version of the Countering CCP Drone Act fails to meet.”

As the Senate Armed Services Committee prepares to review the NDAA, the concerns raised by first responders highlight the critical need for a nuanced approach to legislation impacting public safety and national security.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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