Dutch police using Chinese-made DJI drones the Defense Ministry rejected over security concerns: report
The Dutch police regularly use drones made by Chinese company Da Jiang Innovations (DJI), which the Ministry of Defense banned over serious concerns about data security. There are various indications that images and other data from the drones leak to the Chinese government, Trouw, De Groene Amsterdammer and EenVandaag reported based on an investigative report by Investico.
The police have over 100 DJI drones which they have used mainly to monitor public order about a thousand times so far this year, for example during demonstrations. The Ministry of Defense stopped using these drones, saying about them: "The data is often not protected and usually stored on servers in China. The owners may be required to provide data to the Chinese government."
Over the past few years, multiple international cybersecurity researchers discovered data leaks and back doors in the DJI software. In 2020, for example, French company Synacktiv noticed that the app that controls the drones collected large amounts of data and sent it to Chinese services, and that the app could install all sorts of other software on the device without notifying the user and without their consent. IT security company Check Point discovered in 2018 that hackers could watch drone camera footage live and access previous recordings.
The police told Trouw in a response that they are aware of the risk that data from the drones could end up with the Chinese government, which is why the DJI drones are not used in "protected operations".
DJI told the newspaper in a written response that its products are safe and that users do not have to share data, not even with DJI itself. The company is aware of the critical researchers and called their findings simply untrue.