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May 11, 2021

Are There Risks in Using Foreign-Made Drones?

By Timothy Shields.

The recent advancements in the field of drone technology have improved the ability for the private sector and government agencies. In the private sector, organizations such as real estate, video producers, safety inspectors, and many others have leveraged the power of inexpensive drone technologies.

The power and low cost of the newest drones is also being deployed by governments at all levels from city building inspectors to law enforcement agencies.

Security Risks

While drones may be an excellent tool for various reasons, they can be susceptible to hacking and other cybersecurity threats. Concerns range from hijacking unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for unintentional purposes to the unauthorized access to video feeds. As drone use has expanded and drones are being deployed for more sensitive uses, concerns have been raised at the federal and state level about state-sponsored bad actors.

Foreign Made Drones

The security risks discussed above become more pronounced if drones are purchased from unknown foreign manufacturers. A recent Federal Executive Order highlighted several potential concerns. For example, it may be possible for a foreign government bad actor to access the data recorded using the software deployed on drones or override the control of them. This concern is highlighted for drones deployed for government and law enforcement use.

Law Enforcement

Because of these concerns, lawmakers at both the Federal and State level are now seeking ways to protect the United States’ security and privacy and the privacy of its citizens. At the Federal level, an executive order was issued barring the use of drones that have been manufactured or sourced out from certain foreign firms or suppliers for government purposes.

States legislatures are beginning to follow this issue and legislation has been proposed in several states including Florida. Florida has recently established an “approved vendor” drone list that focuses on the ability to verify security and privacy.

What are your thoughts on this? What business risks might exist for your business? Reach out to a technology and data privacy attorney to discuss your business legal risks.


Timothy Shields is a Partner at Kelley Kronenberg focusing his practice on Technology, Data Privacy, and Social Media Representation.

Contact Timothy Shields at:
Phone: 833-830-HELP (4357)
Email: tshields@kklaw.com

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys or staff, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.