Wednesday, January 19

The United States fears espionage and scraps Chinese drones. In Norway, the police will buy 130.

US authorities believe that Chinese drones pose a national security risk. Several now believe that the Norwegian police should withdraw from the agreement.

Norwegian and Swedish police have carried out a joint procurement of drones.

On Friday, Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl summoned Police Director Benedicte Bjørnland to an emergency meeting.

Background: Purchase of over 100 Chinese drones from the Chinese company DJI for use by Norwegian police.

Just before Christmas, the Chinese company was placed on US sanctions list.

In recent years, DJI drones have captured almost 80 percent of the world market for drones. They are used by professional actors, authorities in a number of countries and by amateurs.

U.S. citizens can no longer buy and sell shares in the company. But trade in drones is not affected.

The reason is that the USA thinks DJI contributes to the monitoring of Uighurs, a people of Turkish descent living in northwestern China.

Just before Christmas, the Chinese drone company DJI was placed on US sanctions list.

In recent years, DJI drones have captured almost 80 percent of the world market for drones. They are used by professional actors, authorities in a number of countries and by amateurs.

U.S. citizens can no longer buy and sell shares in the company, but drone trading is not affected. The authorities believe that DJI contributes to the monitoring of Uighurs, a people of Turkish descent living in northwestern China.

Demands that the police should drop the agreement

Around the same time as DJI was blacklisted in the USA, the news came that the Norwegian police have purchased 130 drones from the Chinese company.

They must delivered through the importer Elefun in Grimstad.

Several Norwegian associations are now reacting to the purchase. The Norwegian Uighur Committee and the Hong Kong Committee in Norway are two of the organizations that sent a report of concern to the Norwegian police on Tuesday. In the letter, he argues that the purchase is contrary to Norwegian security policy interests:

– We fear that sensitive information may go astray and believe that the police should withdraw the agreement, says Arne Melsom, Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Committee in Norway.

He explains that their concern is part of a bigger picture:

– Data legislation in China requires companies to pass on information to the Chinese authorities if they are asked to do so.

– Data may end up in Beijing

US authorities have for several years believed that DJI poses a national security risk because drones can steal data.

Jan Arild Snoen has written the book “The new Cold War – the United States against China”. He believes that there is a real danger that data from the Norwegian police could end up in Beijing if the drones are used:

– There are always security challenges associated with using Chinese technology, especially in connection with monitoring tasks such as this.

In 2019, DJI made a change in its systems. It happened after criticism that information from users could be tapped from the app that is used to start, control and film from the drones.

The change made it possible to keep all the information that the drone collected locally on the data units used by the user.

Afterwards, the company assured that photos, video and other data will never be shared with unauthorized parties.

However, security expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Klon Kitchen, believes that the devices are still not safe:

“Information can flow through drone control apps that suck data out of users,” he says South China Morning Post.

Police Inspector Per Øyvind Haugen in the Police Directorate writes in an email to Aftenposten that they have made ongoing assessments of the drones and what information requirements must be set for the technology:

– We have set different types of requirements for the systems that the selected drones met. Various risk assessments of the acquired technology have also been carried out.

Haugen points out that risk assessments will also be made with a view to possible exposure of sensitive information during certain assignments.

“Huawei with wings”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, for its part, has referred to the drones as “Huawei with wings”. This is not the first time a large international Chinese company has been accused of leaking data to the Beijing authorities.

Secret documents, for example, have shown links between the telecommunications company Huawei and Chinese surveillance.

When Telia considered Huawei as a supplier in connection with the expansion of the Norwegian 5G network, PST asked the authorities to be careful. Later, the agreement went to the telecommunications company Ericsson.

What distinguishes DJI from Huawei is that the drone company has a market share of almost 80 percent. It is also claimed that they are by far the best drones on the market. And although it is not allowed to buy shares in DJI in the United States, US consumers can buy and use the drones.

Used by 900 agencies in the United States

It’s not just drone enthusiasts who use electronics from the Chinese company.

According to the news agency Reuters uses more than 900 US government agencies DJI products, including the police in New York City. The National Park Service, which manages all national parks in the United States, is also said to have used DJI drones to fight forest fires in California.

But Snoen believes that austerity measures are on the way:

– The US military has stopped using DJI drones, and in Japan, the products are banned of all public bodies. Also the Dutch police are concerned for sensitive information to end up in Beijing.

He believes there are good reasons why the Norwegian police should withdraw from the agreement:

– But this is first and foremost a political issue. It should be up to the Ministry of Justice to take these considerations into account.

The Hong Kong Committee has sent its report of concern to the Ministry of Justice and the Justice Committee. The associations have not yet received a response to the inquiry.

Aftenposten has for several days tried to get in touch with DJI. They have not yet responded to the inquiry.

Meeting Friday

Thursday night reported NRK that the Conservatives ask the Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl (Sp) to stop the tender process until the security risk is clarified.

According to NTB, the Minister of Justice points out that the tender process started under Erna Solberg’s government. She has called in police director Benedicte Bjørnland for an urgent meeting about the case on Friday at 10.30.

– I have also asked for verification of the information that appears in the report of concern. I expect the police to make a new assessment of the security risk if it is necessary in light of new information, Mehl says to NRK.

Reference-www.aftenposten.no

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