Are DJI Drones Spying For China? – Don’t Believe The Nonsense
I want to focus more in the technology because, as an engineer, what I love so much about technology is that there are facts in technology it's the one place in my life, where one plus one always equals two there's, no debating it, there's, no arguing it it's, Not going to be two and a half it's, always two, so I want to take an approach from the technical side to explain why this this kind of goofy premise, that drones are somehow spying for some world power to gather really important information that gives them an Advantage somewhere out there so we're going to stay out of the politics of it, but I will say one thing: spines been going on since the beginning of time: it happens in every government, it happens in every country, we spy on enemies, we spy on friends, they Spy on us, we know that's going on, so I want to take a step back from the politics of it and think from a technology perspective. If I was a super spy and I'm in my secret lair someplace, and I want to spy on somebody there's a couple of things from an engineer's perspective – that I want to gather I'll call it the mechanics of spying. The first thing I want to know is: what am I trying to find out? What kind of information do I need so let's let's put that aside for a second well, if I know what I want, what technology am I going to use what technology is at my disposal to get that information, so the first topic I'm going to cover is Technology and why this is probably the worst technology to gather any useful information on anybody.
The second part of it is what information do I want right that technology? Can it provide the information I want, so I'll talk a little bit about how, even if the technology allows you to do it, gathering that information through this mechanism is the worst possible way to gather it because it's available in so many other forms that are easier To get ahold of that, you probably already have access to then. The third part I'll talk about is let's assume those first two premises are right. That I've got good technology. It can really gather the information I want. The third is: how do I get the information back to me because that's really, where it falls apart now that I've gathered the data on this drone? Some of the various purpose I've got data on the drone. How do I get it back to my lair? How do i, how do I get the data back where I can analyze it and use it so I'm gon na break this into those three parts, and then I'll come back with some conclusions at the end and the reason I'm doing this clip isn't, because I Love talking about stuff like this it's, because these kind of unfounded opinions that are out there in the news today affect people they affect other people's opinions, they're sort of like this innuendo, this rumor that starts about this guy you've, said something about him. That may not be true it's not based on facts, but people hear it and it changes their opinion about that guy.
So this conversation really puts a lot of people in power in the mindset that these are dangerous things that they're some foreign power is somehow puppet master over these drones and they're gathering data that's going to give them an advantage over the US and the danger in That isn't just that we may lose our ability to fly or have it strictly curtailed, it's that the drones that are out there today, especially DJI drones, they've gone overboard to try to help out in situations that are really dangerous situations. That drones can make a huge difference. These are force multipliers for rescue teams that are out there. Looking for a lost kid in the woods or a policeman, that's got to go into a scary neighborhood. There may be a gunman in that alley and he can put a drone or she can put a drone up, fly over the alley and see exactly where that gunman is. These are force multipliers for everybody out there and rescue first responders. Police forces and DJI is out there saying hey. We understand you're in a crisis right now, with the current virus situation. We'Re going to give you some drones, it'll help you do your job a little more effectively, keep you away from people and somehow that's been twisted into a bad thing. It'S been twisted into this. Somehow there's undercurrent nefarious behavior, but the Chinese government is going to use this as a plot to get information that they wouldn't have gotten before and that's really what's got me fired up so I'm gon na get into the three parts of it now I'm.
Gon na talk about the technology, the information that you might want to gather and the distribution and then I'll come back with some conclusions and I'm. Sorry that I'm being so opinionated in this one. But I feel like if we don't speak truth to power and just sit back and let these kind of knucklehead knuckleheads the word we're, using a lot in Jersey by the way lately. But these knucklehead conversations go on. They become facts because enough people hear them and they repeat them and repeat, or repeat them all of a sudden everybody's believing them so let's stick to the technology. We'Ll, stick to the facts and I'll give you a lot of good examples. Why that premise that anybody anywhere could use these devices to get valuable information that would put them in an event. Advantageous state would be crazy, it's, just nuts, so stay tuned, we'll get into the technology first and then I'll go into the other two sections Music. In this first section on technology, I'll point out a few reasons: why drones in general and DJI drones in particular, are the absolute worst choice for any master spy to use to gather into various information on anybody because of on that master spy. All I care about is whatever technology I'm using gets me close enough to my target. Lets me gather the data I need and get it back to my Batcave, so I can actually analyze that data and drones have a lot of limitations that are based on technology and their factual technology limitations that aren't debatable the first one has to do with no Fly zones now, if you're not familiar with those, the FAA is deemed certain areas in the country.
No fly zones, which means drones should not be flying in those areas and for good reason: they're, typically sensitive areas like prisons or military facilities or airports, or maybe hydroelectric dams or nuclear power plants. They'Re places that a drone should not be flying for both security and safety reasons, with most drones, though it's up to the pilot, whether they fly in those areas, there's no limit to stopping them from flying in those areas. So a pilot could very easily put a drone up and fly over a military facility. Their heart's content now it'd probably be a short flight, because it's gon na get shot down but there's nothing to stop them. That'S, not true with DJI drones. Dji is the only company at this point that spent a ton of time and treasure building in geofencing knew their drones, which is a physical limitation that recognizes the drones about to enter a no fly zone and it'll. Warn the pilot don't fly there it's a no fly zone and if the pilot ignores that, because they're trying to do something nefarious, it'll actually land, the drone they're, the only drone that does that at this point, all the other drones out there will let you fly Anywhere, you want to your heart's content, so if you're, a bad guy or you're that master spy you've just picked the absolute worst piece of technology to get close to that interesting military facility are trying to observe they're the one drone that can't get you close to It so picking on drones in general, maybe there's an argument to be made there, but picking on DJI drones in particular means you've just picked the wrong drone for the job, so the technology doesn't meet your needs so that's.
The first point. The second point has to do with the camera systems, because, again, if I'm gathering sensitive data, I want to get really crisp images of whatever it is I'm trying to figure out and cameras on. Drones have gotten really good in the last couple of years. They'Re they're not 4k, capable a capable they take. Amazing video footage and pictures problem with the cameras on drones. Is that they're not designed for a really small focus, they're designed as landscape cameras, which have a really wide field of view? So when you take a shot from a drone it's trying to capture a large chunk of the landscape from 400 feet up so you're, getting the entire lake in the forest zeroing in on a person on that shore, isn't something the cameras and the drones can do In general, even the ones that can zoom can't really narrow their field to look at something very specific, which is exactly what I want if I'm trying to spy on somebody. The best you can do is capture that wide angle. Shot then digitally zoom in and enhance on that one spot, but it's a terrible technology to use for that kind of spying. So the cameras are a limiting factor. The third reason, which I think is probably the biggest reason why drones are a goofy idea to use for spying. Is that you're not controlling the drone? So if I'm not master spy back in my secret lair, someplace buried in the side of a mountain, I have no control over what kind of data I'm getting back.
I just have to trust Joe, the drone operator to happen upon the facility that I want to surveil put his drone up or her drone up and then look at that facility and then I've got the data I need, but but think about the chances of that Happening the randomness of people flying drones out there, the chances of you getting that shot. You could wait years before a drone gets up and happens to fly over that hydroelectric dam, that you're really interested in and by the way, if it's, a DJI drone it's not gon na get near it anyway, so that randomness of collecting that data is not spy Craft spy craft is we've, got a target. We want to observe that target. We want to process that data, it isn't, let's, observe everybody and if we happen to see that target walked by will analyze the data at that point, it's a horrible mechanism for collecting that data. So the the Geo zones, the geofencing built in TMZ's, prevent it from flying in areas that if you were spying – and you were a bad guy, you're not gon na get near the areas you want to look at anyway. The second reason is, the cameras are not equipped for it they're the wrong kind of camera to zero in, on that particular location, to get just the detail you need, and the third which again, I think, it's. The most important is that it's such a random event.
When you consider the entire population of the US, a tiny, tiny portion of it is flying drones, a tiny portion of it and in that tiny portion, a tiny portion of that is flying a drone like this. So the audience for people that may be able to collect that data, for you is so infinitesimally small compared to the population of the US and the sites. You want to surveil that it doesn't make a lot of sense, because even the guys that are flying drones out there, the people that are flying drones, a small percentage of those – are flying. Drones like this that are sophisticated enough to gather that data. So when you look at the randomness of it, the capabilities of the drones that are out there, the people that are flying the drones that you can use to actually surveil those locations and the people that happen to be here at that location, that that windows down To be one guy on a Friday, every three years that may get that shot, you need it just doesn't make a lot of sense. There are way more easier ways of collecting that data that are widely available, and I don't doubt they're being used for nefarious purposes and I'll talk about that next. When I get into information in this next section on information I'd like to get to the core of the exact type of data, you'd be looking to gather. If you were indeed spying with drones and that's the one question, nobody can seem to answer it's the.
Why the? How is the technology now let's pretend for a second, that I was totally wrong and everything I talked about in the technology section and you could spy with a drone and it worked flawlessly the. Why is what really bothers me and it's a one question that drives me bonkers when I watch these interviews because they dance around it, nobody out there has said we've caught them doing this specifically to gather this information, no one can describe what's trying to be attained By spying with drones, so the whole premise falls apart. Unless you can define that and in those interviews I'm telling you if I was interviewing any of those people. The first question I had asked him is to say: what are they trying to get so they're spying? What are they looking to gather is it pictures? Is a GPS coordinates, so they try to surveil our Police Department's. What are they looking to gather? No one can answer that question and it's interesting, because when they get close to that question, all kinds of hypotheticals come up and that's a dangerous thing. It'S, like a Jenga tower, when you have all these like hypotheticals, well, we're, not sure exactly what they're trying to gather but they're compromising our security, varied radicand, flammond story, kind of conversation, they're compromising our security they're spying on our country, they're, invading our borders by spying. Those are all dramatic phrases that are used. Give me the details as an engineer.
I want to know what the numbers give me the number. What specifically, are you trying to gather by spying through these drones? Answer that question and I'm going to feel a lot more confident. We can still talk about how the technology's a limiting factor. We can talk about a distributions, a limiting factor but tell me what you're trying to gather, because if it's pictures there's a hundred other ways to get much better resolution pictures than flying a drone near a location that's going to cause a lot of people to pay Attention to it, you've got millions of cell phone cameras in this country. We are such a narcissistic society that I guarantee you every quarter of a second of every day, there's some teenager and some adults with a cell phone taking a selfie with a sensitive location behind them. All of those pictures are being posted on Facebook and Instagram at tik, tok and every other social media calendar out there that'd be a great way to surveil those pictures. Why do I want to put a drone up and just trust the Joe? The drone flier is gon na fly past, that sensitive location, so that's a good way to do it. If you're looking for pictures, what about Google Earth, you can get a picture of everything on the planet on Google Earth and get pretty good resolution there. So there are two things right there that completely eliminate the need to get pictures.
Now, if you're worried about GPS coordinates somehow that you figure drones flying around are going to tell you where people are located or maybe where police are active, I don't really see any value in that data, so the core for me, is the information. What are you trying to gather explain that to me and then I can take a little better view of. Is it something that drones can do and is it valuable because I'm telling you, if you're worried about information leaking out of this country on videos or pictures or any kind of sensitive data, there's all kinds of the FAA and of ZZZ? I talked about a minute ago are published so if I'm, a bad guy in another country, and I want to find all the sensitive locations in our country that's on the Internet. You can dial it up today and get it there's no issue whatsoever. So information is really the key to this question and if another interview takes place, the interviewer should start with let's pretend for a second, a tech can do it. What are they trying to gather specifically and when you read the reports that are out there, they're all based on opinions and innuendo and sort of happenstance conversations that took place about? We have news that they've been spying through these drones, who gave you the news? Ask the question where's it coming from what information are they gathering do have any evidence that any of the information has been gathered through a drone? If not stop talking about it and that's.
The danger of these stories is that because they're salacious and they are right – it's it's, spying, it's, a foreign country there's all kinds of issues politically right now with China. So, of course, they're gon na talk about everybody gets fired up about it, but at the core of it. If it's not true, stop talking about it and correct the last statement you made about it, because if you leave, it hang out there and it comes up again in six months. It becomes a fact in six months, because people go I've heard that before that's. Absolutely true, I hear their spine through drones – they're, not spying through drones, I'm. Here to tell you the technology doesn't permit it. I don't know what kind of information they would gather and if they did have a purpose of gathering information. I promise you. There are people in a secret lair, someplace with internet connections that can get at most of that data without flying a really expensive drone in the US. So if you stay tuned, I'll talk about the last major impediment to this being any kind of discussion beyond farcical, which has to do with distribution, which is probably the biggest reason why this makes no sense whatsoever. This last section has to do with distribution, and what I mean by that is let's, say: you're, a perfect spy, you're brilliant and you figured out a way to get past the technological limitations of what the drones can do.
You know exactly what kind of data you're going for you still have to collect it at that location and somehow get it back to the Batcave that's. The distribution part that last connection to get the data back to where I need it to be able to analyze it and that's a major impediment for drones, because when you think about it, drones in general, aren't connected to the Internet, you don't have to have an Interconnection to fly a drone and there's a limited amount of capacity in the drone to record stuff. So let's pretend for a second that you want to surveil a nuclear power plant and you happen to find one guy on a Saturday. Who'S fly near the nuclear power plant and he's recorded some footage of the parking lot to get that back to your lair it's on that micro SD card he's not connected to the Internet. Now you have to trust that he's going to get home transfer it to his computer and you can hack that computer and you've got this sort of chain of evidence to keep track of that you're gon na get that one shot. You need off his computer it's, ludicrous to think that it's gon na happen. Now a lot of people will say well Rick a lot of people have cell phones with data plans on them. I can hack into their cell phone and I can suck that data up over their data plan.
Well, that's not going to work for a couple of reasons: number one: the files you're recording or gigantic. These are 64 128 gigabyte memory cards, that's a lot of data and, if you've transferred that the computer with a direct connection, you know how long it takes to get that transferred to your computer. You can imagine how long that's going to take to upload over a connection on your phone it's gon na take forever and don't. You think those people would notice that their data plants have increased at ballooned out of control because they're transferring gigabytes information there's some secret server someplace in the Chinese homeland it's, not gon na happen, it's ridiculous to even talk about that kind of stuff. But still people go hey, it could happen. No, it can't happen, stop saying that it can I'm telling you from a factual perspective. The files are too big. The pipes too small. You can only champ, so much information into the pipe and people are gon na notice. That so that's a problem if that wasn't enough DJI drones in particular, have gone through incredibly rigorous testing and I'm. Not just saying that, I know people say: oh you're, a fan of DJI. I am because I love their technology I'm, a technology fan and they build some of the most secure products on the planet, and I actually challenged him on this, and I probably shouldn't talk about it, but a year and a half ago, two years ago, when all These ridiculous conversations started about other drones are dangerous.
We got to take care of them. Dji said you know what we're gon na do. We'Re gon na hire an outside company completely independent from DJI and they're gon na they're gon na come in and they're gon na analyze our tech and they looked at the tech company was called Kiva and they issued a report now here's the cool part. I looked at that really closely and said: there's a lot of ways. You could cheat a test like that right, you could hand them special drones that were cleaned up, that locked everything down. There were no no hacks available in them. That'D be one way. Another way would be to work with them in their labs, and you test it in my lab there's a lot of ways. You can put your thumb on the scale, but Kiba said no we're not going to do that. What working it too instead is we're gon na walk into a store, I think, was a Best Buy and we're gon na buy two of your drones off the shelf. Completely sealed and shrink wrap now, there's, no way to DJI kandar, knowing they're walking into that Best. Buy they bought those drones, brought them back to their labs and random rigorous testing to check things like. Where does the data lie? Where does it reside? Does it move to a server? Does it touch any servers, so not moving data, but just touching servers does it touch any servers outside of the US and the answer was no on all counts, so I'm pretty hard about those kind of questions I don't just take somebody's opinion for it again as An engineer I got to see the facts, so I beat DJ I'm pretty good about it.
I said: look man, I trust you, but I can't say this. Unless I see it for myself, I need to copy the report. They sent me to copy the report and was numbered, so I can't distribute it and it was under NDA. But I read through that report and I'm here to tell you everything I would have tested as an engineer. Everything and some things I didn't think about were tested in that report and Kiva looked at it and said you guys are clean by the way. Androids got some issues, which is one of the operating systems. The application runs on, but it's, not even the app it's. The underlying application, but at any rate the drones are clean, so they put that report out and said: we've been independently verified by an outside agency that these drones are clean, they're, not sharing data with anybody anywhere on the planet outside of you. The person fly in the drone, the government came in and said well, we're, not sure that that's secure enough for us because we're the government and we have much more stringent standards than consumers would have. We have this grouping of standards. So what a DJI do and went back to the labs and came out with a new version of the microcode called the government edition, which is even more secure and it's so secure that when you record a a video or photo to it, each of those files Is encrypted and password protected? So if I threw that SD card – and you put it in your computer – you can't even look at the files unless you have the password to unlock that file.
So they went that extra step. Listen to the government! So tell us what you want us to do. Just tell us what you need us to do and we'll modify the software to handle that the government gave the specifications they modified. The software gave it back to them. They tested it and work great, but somehow somewhere in that that large found leaks of government somebody out there said I still don't trust them, and that was enough to shut it down. So all this nonsense around drones, spying for China, breaks down on any one of these points that I've discussed today and I know I'm very passionate about this and I'm passionate, because the upside of this, with DJI out of the goodness of their heart, donating drones to Rescue squads police departments in this time of crisis in this country, I think, is a very benevolent act and, and I can't stand by idly and watch a company, do something that gracious and get beat up for it. Have people somehow twist that in a perverted way to be oh they're doing it, they couldn't do it because they're nice guys they're doing it because there's some spying going on underfoot it's, just nonsense and for somebody to step up and say that without having the facts, I think it's just wrong it's, terrible and shame on those guys for doing that. So again, that's my two cents and I promise you they won't – be this controversial every clip.
But this one's important because as fliers, you talk to a lot of people and I don't think I go to a party I'm gon na party in a while because of the virus. But when I go to a party everybody wants to ask me questions about the drone and a topic of conversation. A year ago was: oh, I heard those drones are spying for China. What do you think about that? You need to correct those opinions when they're out there. Don'T trust me, look the facts up yourself: I'm, one guy talking about it. I'Ve done my homework. What I'm telling you today is a fact, but go research this on your own challenge me in these things. So, if I'm missing something in the comments below and let me know if I've missed something I've read all the articles – I've watched all the interviews that are out there and I'm here to tell ya it's tinfoil hat time on a lot of those interviews. They'Re not hitting the facts, they're hitting opinions and and it's so terrible that in this country, people will do anything for a little gain. So having a hot topic like this, get you in a news channel gets people watching you and you seem like a smart person. Do your homework that's all I'm, saying and again I promise I won't be the scotc of Rocher with other stuff, but it's really got me fired up because I love flying drones and I think not only is it fun as a hobbyist, but the technology these drones Provide for rescue workers and first responders and fire departments to keep their people safe and out of harm's way by applying technology like this, for somebody to come out with an opinion that isn't based on any fact to stifle that innovation, I think, is terrible.
It'S it's it's heinous behavior, in my opinion, so that's just my two cents again, thanks so much for watching. I hope you found value in this, and I gave you enough detail where you can go out and debate this with your friends. If it comes up in conversation, please have that conversation and set those guys straight, because otherwise this hobby is on the ropes. We could really be in trouble with the government believing a lot of that stuff and starting to pass legislation which is almost what's happening with this congressman in Florida. Who'S. Now sponsoring legislation to ban any kind of Chinese drone DJI in particular, being used in any kind of federal estate use, and I think, I think about almost Park Rangers that have lost the kid out there in Yellowstone Park having to send 50 people into the brush. With rattlesnakes and scorpions, or whatever kind of dangerous Cougars, I don't even know what's out there, but they're sending these people out of the brush when they just put a drone up and cover acres of area, with thermal cameras to find the kid that's out there. In the woods it breaks my heart so anyway, that's just me talking thanks so much for watching. I hope you found value in this. I feel better. Having get it off my chest, then I promise you the next one will be cooler.