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U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz accused China of operating a “Trojan horse spying operation” and threatening America’s national security.
The Florida Republican spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the use of Chinese-made drones by local law enforcement agencies in several states to enforce coronavirus safety guidelines, and whether information was being gathered by those drones to relay to the Chinese Communist Party.
(Source: Fox News)
“China is massively expanding a Trojan horse spying operation in our country, and your local police department maybe unknowingly helping them. The United States Army, the Department of Interior, they banned the use of these DJI drones, citing vulnerability and potential value for other countries,” Gaetz said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Monday, referring to the drones made by Chinese manufacturer, DJI.
“The Department of Homeland Security wrote a scathing report that said that China specifically goes after local law enforcement,” the House Judiciary Committee member continued.
“They did so even before the coronavirus so that they can get key information transmitted to the Chinese government. And then our own Department of Homeland Security wrote that this is precisely the type of information we’re worried that China might sell to terrorists,” Gaetz said.
The Shenzhen-based Da Jiang Innovations donated drones to 43 law enforcement agencies in 22 states where they were then used in efforts to enforce social distancing guidelines and other restrictions in the wake of the global pandemic.
Talking drones warned pedestrians to keep a safe distance from each other in New York City while in New Jersey, residents heard a drone tell them in an automated message to “stop gathering, disperse, and go home.” Concerns emerged about the donated drones as footage appeared from China showing how drones were used by the government, employing the use of cameras and loudspeakers to watch citizens, issue warnings and even report them for violations amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Drones used to enforce social distancing in US reportedly ‘donated’ by Chinese tech company https://t.co/pQRLQH11Hw
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 17, 2020
Though DJI pushed back on the spying claims, Gaetz explained how the company lowered their prices by 70 percent “even before the coronavirus,” and effectively forced US manufacturers out of the market.
“And, since coronavirus, DJI is openly bragging that they have just donated these Trojan horse gifts to over, you know, 22 states, to over 40 municipalities,” the lawmaker told Carlson.
“When I talk to these municipalities in my own investigation, they say ‘Well, it’s no big deal. We just fly them around the parks and tell people to disperse, or we just make sure folks are social distancing,'” he said. “But the information that’s being collected makes our nation more vulnerable, and I believe the Attorney General, under the existing authorities he has under the cybersecurity laws should immediately ground the entire fleet of DJI drones used by law enforcement.”
Gaetz added, “We should not be spied on by our own government and giving the information then to a foreign government that’s hostile.”
The Florida congressman drove the point home with more details added in a series of tweets he shared.
In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security said DJI is “Likely Providing U.S. Critical Infrastructure and Law Enforcement Data to Chinese Government.” pic.twitter.com/7YCf22ESZN
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 5, 2020
DJI drones were banned by the United States Army and the Department of the Interior, Gaetz pointed out, noting their concern that “information collected during UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) missions has the potential to be valuable to foreign entities, organizations, and governments.”
“A Department of Homeland Security report even detailed how DJI targets law enforcement agencies,” Gaetz wrote in another tweet. “The Department of Homeland Security assessed in 2017 that ‘China could provide DJI information to terrorist organizations…to coordinate attacks against US infrastructure.'”
“China stole our health. Now they threaten our national security,” Gaetz wrote. “This must end now.”
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