Delft firm warns Dutch police on data stealing Chinese drones

Experts are warning the Dutch police against using drones by the Chinese brand DJI. The company is still in talks with the Chinese government about sharing data captured by the drones, so there is no way of knowing where the data will end up, they said to BNR. 

The Dutch police are currently practicing with the use of DJI drones. And many Dutch individuals and companies also one them, as the brand accounts for 70 percent of the professional drones sold in the world.

DJI is open to sharing locations, flight information and possibly even video footage, according to Lucas van Oostrum of Delft Aerial Robotics. He warns companies who own DJI drones to make sure they do not fly in areas that may contain sensitive information.

According to Parcival Hofland, CEO of Dutch Drone Academy, data from these drones are continuously stored, because of the constant updates "The drones are still connected to a computer, so then the headquarters in China can actually see what you do with the drone", he said to BNR. "Frankly, we do not know what the Chinese do with it. But everything is saved."

The Chinese government is pressuring DJI to make the data they collect available for surveillance purposes, according to Peter Wijninga of The Hague Center for Strategic Studies. That could be dangerous, he said. "I hope the Dutch government takes measures or buys other models.".

On Thursday intelligence agency AIVD revealed in its annual report that China is one of the biggest threats to the Netherlands when it comes to espionage, both over the internet and physical espionage. The American authorities also warned their businesses to be careful of economic espionage from China.

A spokesperson for the police told the broadcaster that they are currently only using DJI test models and haven't made a decision about a possible purchase as of yet.