China-Made Drones May Be Relaying Information to Beijing, Warn Taiwanese Experts

Experts say Taipei should consider cooperating with NGOs to regularly test Chinese products.

China-Made Drones May Be Relaying Information to Beijing, Warn Taiwanese Experts

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Chinese citizens and enterprises are required to share information with the government on request

Highlights
  • Chinese phones and drones were found with data transmission settings
  • China's National Intelligence Law mandates sharing of data
  • Experts have urged the regularly testing of Chinese products

Experts in Taiwan have warned that the Chinese-made drones used by the country's private companies and individuals could be transferring information back to Beijing, reported local media. Many countries prohibit the public sector from using Chinese information and communication-related products. Therefore, Taipei should consider cooperating with NGOs to regularly test Chinese products and share the results with the public, Taiwan News quoted Su Tzu-yun, director of the Institute for National Defence and Security Research, as saying.

In the past, Xiaomi, Huawei, and ZTE mobile phones as well as DJI drones have all been found to have data transmission software settings in their firmware, said Su.

Therefore, the US' 2020 National Defence Authorization Act restricted the federal government from procuring Chinese drones, according to Taiwan News.

Chinese citizens and enterprises have the obligation to support, assist, and cooperate in national intelligence operations in accordance with Article 14 of China's National Intelligence Law, said Taiwan's National Communications Commission.

Regarding the rule, whenever Beijing asks Chinese manufacturers to provide relevant information, they cannot refuse. When private businesses or individuals use Chinese drones, relevant images and other important data may be sent back to Chinese manufacturers, which may then be forwarded to Chinese government authorities, according to Taiwan News.

"Theoretically, Chinese-made drones should be completely banned," said Li Chung-hsien, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at National Cheng Kung University.

But Li said that Taiwan does not have a "scorched earth" approach regarding this issue. However, he maintained that it is necessary for relevant authorities to check the functions of Chinese drones and make comprehensive regulations, unlike the current ones that only regulate flight safety.


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