Although the army did not elaborate on its memo, it’s thought the decision may have been spurred by DJI’s data collection. You see, the company’s DJI GO 4 app reportedly uploads details of flight records by default — including telemetry, video and audio — to its servers in the US, China and Hong Kong. It also doesn’t help that hackers have previously shown they can break into the app and fiddle with the drones’ flight elevation restrictions.
For its part, DJI told The NY Times it hasn’t been in touch with the military. And, its press release suggests the new mode has been in the works for months — further emphasizing it has nothing to do with the army’s decision. However, a company VP has revealed that the news may have raised alarm bells among consumers. “The Army memo caused customers to express renewed concern about data security,” DJI’s Brendan Schulman told the Times. The statements may seem at odds, but there’s reason to believe the company is looking to service its wider user base.
For proof, look no further than DJI’s integration of 3DR’s business-oriented tools with its UAVs. Ultimately, the drone-maker’s customers now span multiple industries. That’s something it acknowledges in its press release.
“[Local data mode] will provide an enhanced level of data assurance for sensitive flights,” writes the company. “Such as those involving critical infrastructure, commercial trade secrets, governmental functions or other similar operations.”