The US Interior Department, which oversees federal land and resource management, says it’s grounding its entire aerial drone fleet of more than 800 UAVs out of concern for Chinese spying and drone-aided cyberattacks reports The Wall Street Journal.
According to the reports of The Wall Street Journal, Every drone in use by the Interior Department is either manufactured in China or uses some Chinese-made parts. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt made the order earlier today, and the drones will remain grounded until the department completes a review of the security risks they may pose.
“Secretary Bernhardt is reviewing the Department of the Interior’s drone program. Until this review is completed, the Secretary has directed that drones manufactured in China or made from Chinese components be grounded unless they are currently being utilized for emergency purposes, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue, and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property,” reads a statement from Department of the Interior spokesperson Melissa Brown.
Many of the drones are currently used by the department to help with combating forest fires, monitoring dams and floods, inspecting land for property and environmental damage due to erosion, and monitoring endangered species.
Some of the concern is centered on whether the drones could be used to transmit data, including photography and video, of sensitive US infrastructure that may be the subject of future cyberattacks, The Wall Street Journal reports.