“Is this good policy?” “Or is this merely a political maneuver cloaked as such?” 

These are questions I ask when reviewing a policy proposal.

Our legislators shoulder the dual responsibility of upholding their oaths to the Constitution and faithfully representing the interests of their constituents. Regrettably, there are instances where legislation strays from these responsibilities.

Instead, members of Congress exploit nuanced issues, capitalize on public ignorance of the topic, and manufacture crises to score political points.

One such policy is the “Countering CCP Drones Act.” This legislation singles out a specific company responsible for approximately 70 percent of the global drone market, hoping to get them banned under the premise that their technology poses a security threat to the United States.

What does this bill propose exactly? It would mandate that the Federal Communications Commission put DJI on its “Covered List.” DJI is a drone company in China with branches worldwide, including the United States.

Should the bill pass, the FCC would cease approving new equipment or software authorizations for DJI products within the United States. Moreover, existing authorizations could face revocation, potentially grounding approved DJI drones. The act extends its reach to include any software compatible with DJI products, even if developed by American companies, subjecting them to the same constraints.

Pay attention to that last part. When the federal government uses a foreign company as the boogie man to expand its authority to regulate American businesses and, therefore, lives, that should get our attention.

In practical terms, this legislation threatens to outlaw a technology recognized for its life-saving capabilities. First responders widely use drones to fly into hazardous situations to assess damage and plan of action without prematurely sending in human lives.

While important debates regarding governmental overreach for “public safety” abound in American political discourse, the pivotal question remains: Does DJI’s technology pose a national security threat that warrants such legislation? The resounding answer is no.

Supporters of this legislation are peddling fear and misinformation, fostering unwarranted apprehension regarding the safety and security implications of DJI’s technology. Contrary to their claims, DJI drones incorporate default privacy settings that allow users to opt out of data sharing. Flight logs, photos, videos and mobile data, spanning consumer and enterprise drones, are not automatically synced with DJI. 

For those opting to store their data, it remains securely housed within U.S.-based servers. Furthermore, DJI drones offer a “Local Data Mode” option, severing the connection between the flight app and the internet, ensuring data remains locally stored. Operators can even bypass DJI’s flight app entirely, using third-party software, including American-made alternatives.

The “Countering CCP Drones Act” would have a massive effect on the drone industry and the broader U.S. economy. According to a 2023 analysis by John Dunham & Associates, removing DJI and its products from the market would result in the closure of 67 percent of American small drone businesses and the loss of more than 450,000 jobs. In addition, cutting the leading manufacturer out of the drone market would lead to rising costs and product shortages for all users.

Further, this legislation would expand the FCC’s authority to include the developers of software that operates on DJI equipment, even U.S. software developers. In essence, the Countering CCP Drones Act epitomizes government intervention arbitrarily dictating winners and losers in the business arena. 

By succumbing to sensationalized narratives devoid of substantive evidence, proponents of this bill not only undermine technological innovation but also jeopardize the livelihoods of countless individuals and businesses.

In pursuing legislative integrity, we must hold our elected representatives accountable for prioritizing informed policymaking over political posturing. Good governance stems not from the propagation of fear for shallow political victories but from a commitment to evidence-based decision-making and preserving economic freedom, competition and technological advancement. 

As guardians of democracy, we must demand nothing less.