The US Interior Department, which oversees federal and land resource management, has halted the use of its fleet of drones due to privacy concerns, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt called for the aerial fleet of more than 800 UAV drones, all of which are either manufactured in China or uses Chinese-made parts, to be grounded early yesterday. And, the drones will remain grounded until the department assesses the security risks they may pose.
However, the decision will not apply to drones “currently being utilized for emergency purposes, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue, and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property,” the department said.
Even more, Bloomberg News reports that the decision comes following pressure from congress who are growing increasingly concerned about American reliance on Chinese technology.
In response, Mario Rebello, the vice president and regional manager for North America at Chinese company DJI — the world’s biggest manufacturer of drones — said:
“We will continue to support the Department of Interior and provide assistance as it reviews its drone fleet so the agency can quickly resume the use of drones to help federal workers conduct vital operations.”