Huawei Unveils First Smartphones Without Google Apps, Owing to US Sanctions

Huawei’s latest smartphone series, the Mate 30, will be the first ones it makes without Google apps installed.

Since the Chinese tech giant was sanctioned by the U.S. government in May and prohibited from buying U.S. tech supplies and software, it has lost access to Google’s proprietary products, including the Google-developed Android operating system and popular apps such as Gmail, Google Play Store, and Google Maps.

Some location-based apps that rely on Google Maps, such as ride-hailing and food delivery apps, won’t be able to function on the new Huawei phones.

At a launch event in Munich, Germany on Sept. 19, Richard Yu Chengdong, head of Huawei’s consumer business division, introduced the series, which will have four models: the Mate 30, Mate 30 Pro, Mate 30 Pro 5G and Mate 30 RS. 

The smartphones’ operating systems are based on Android open source, but won’t have Google services or apps. 

The phones are pre-installed with Huawei’s own web browser to replace Google Chrome. They will have AppGallery, a Huawei-designed app distribution platform with roughly 45,000 apps available.

By comparison, the Google Play Store has about 2.7 million apps. Yu told reporters after the launch that Huawei will spend $1 billion to encourage global developers to make apps compatible with its AppGallery. Prior to the U.S. sanctions, AppGallery was primarily used in Huawei phones for the Chinese market, where Google and many Western tech brands are banned.

Yu did not reveal which regions the new phones will be available for sale. But European media said given the lack of accessibility to Google products, the phones are unlikely to sell in Europe.

Design

The Mate 30 design is competitive with Apple’s latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, with its three rear camera lens; Samsung’s triple-camera Galaxy Note 10; and the upcoming Google Pixel 4, which will be launched on Oct. 15.

The Mate 30 Pro has four rear camera lens, including an ultra-wide lens, telephoto lens, and a 3D depth-sensing lens. 

Due to U.S. sanctions, Huawei also cannot purchase U.S.-made electronic chips. The Mate 30 series will use Huawei’s own design, the Kirin 990 chipset.

The Mate 30 models will retail between 799 euros (about $880) to 2,095 euros ($2,300). 

‘Practically Useless’

Dutch media LetsGoDigital quoted a Huawei insider on Sept. 19, who revealed that Huawei does not plan to sell the new series in central Europe.

“Huawei realizes that launching an expensive high-end smartphone without Google apps in Europe is practically useless,” the insider said.

The report pointed out that during the pre-event session in Munich, the Chinese company did not provide information about the new phone, a “strange” incident that made journalists there “confused and upset.” 

Jean Baptiste Su, principal analyst at Atherton Research, also told the Associated Press that European carriers are unlikely to take the risk of selling the latest series.

“I don’t think [telecom] operators will risk having millions of disappointed customers that rely on Google services [who] see it doesn’t work on their brand new devices,” she said.

Huawei was the world’s second largest smartphone supplier in 2018. The company’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has said before that the company had ambitions to become the world’s number one smartphone maker by 2020. 

But the U.S. sanctions has put a damper on its plans.

Shortly after the U.S. administration announced its export ban on national security grounds, a number of mobile carriers announced that it would discontinue selling Huawei smartphone models, including EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, and UK-based mobile carrier, Vodafone.

Chunghwa Telecom, the largest telecom company in Taiwan, also announced that it would not purchase any more new Huawei phones because “the future maintenance and repair can’t be guaranteed.”

In current trade war negotiations, Beijing is seeking an easing of the U.S. sanctions on Huawei, but it is unclear whether the U.S. side will cut such a deal.

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Author: Nicole Hao

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Trump Jr. Calls Out Instagram After His, Trump’s Accounts Vanish From Search Suggestions

Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, pointed out in a Sept. 18 Instagram post that his and his father’s accounts on the social media platform were not showing up in search suggestions.

“I’m sure this is totally a coincidence (like all the other total coincidences against conservative accounts),” Trump Jr. said.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded by saying it addressed the issue and was looking for what caused it, Breitbart reported.

What Happened

On Instagram, when users type text into the search bar, the site suggests a list of accounts and tags based on their relevance to the typed text as well as the user’s prior searches and other activity on the site.

But when “donaldtrumpjr” was typed in, which is the exact name of his account, Trump Jr.’s account didn’t show up in the suggestions, despite his having 1.9 million followers on the platform.

Trump Jr. said he tried “other variations” of his name, but his account still didn’t show up. In addition to that, his father’s account didn’t show up either, despite having 14.6 million followers and being named “realdonaldtrump.”

“A few friends pointed this out to me so I figured I’d reach out as it would seem odd to me that an account with almost 2m[illion] followers and The President Of The United States (because he has the same name) doesn’t show up in a search but a lot of accounts with virtually no followers do,” Trump Jr. said.

He added a screenshot documenting the phenomenon.

“I’m sure it’s totally an anomaly,” he said, encouraging the company “to do the right thing regarding this account and many others like it who may not buy fully into your left wing ideology.”

As of Sept. 19, both Trump’s and Trump Jr.’s accounts were appearing again in the search suggestions.

Bias

Conservatives have accused tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter of suppressing their voices by various means.

The companies have denied the accusations, claiming political neutrality. There’s a growing pile of evidence, however, showing otherwise.

All of the companies, for instance, prohibit “hate speech,” a concept broadly adopted by the political left, but often shunned by the right, a 2017 Cato survey (pdf) showed.

An internal Facebook document described and partially leaked to Breitbart earlier this year indicated that ideology plays a role in the company’s decisions on what content to suppress.

It listed conservative activist Candace Owens as a person who should be investigated and indicated that Facebook employees were to look into what Owens is “known for,” including her “ideology, actions, major news, etc.”

A Facebook spokesperson didn’t respond to an earlier question on why it was relevant for Facebook to determine Owens’s ideology.

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Author: Petr Svab

Interior Department Transfers 560 Acres of Public Land for Border Wall Construction

Approximately 560 acres of federal land will be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Army to build roughly 70 miles of border barrier, the Interior Department announced on Sept. 18.

The transfer of administrative jurisdiction of the more than 500 acres of Federal lands comes as a response to a series of applications for Emergency Withdrawal that were submitted by the Army for construction or augmentation of barriers along the southern border. The land transfer does not include national parks or segments of Native American land.

“I’ve personally visited the sites that we are transferring to the Army, and there is no question that we have a crisis at our southern border,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement. “Absent this action, national security and natural resource values will be lost.”

Bernhardt said since the crisis is so vast, it must be addressed “aggressively” and with “extraordinary measures.” He added there were serious national security, drug enforcement, and other immigration challenges that staff face along the border.

After President Donald Trump issued Proclamation 9844, which declared the situation at the southern border a national emergency, the Army submitted its requests. Earlier on Sept. 4, the Defense Department announced that they would defer $3.6 billion to fund 11 barrier projects at the southern border.

“We made it a priority to work closely with the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, to protect the wildlife, natural, and cultural resources that occur on these federal lands along the border,” said Casey Hammond, Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management in a statement. “This work will provide the necessary tools to enhance the safety of those that live, work and recreate in this region.”

The lands that were requested for the projects include acres from 5 different areas, El Paso 2, El Paso 8, San Diego 4, Yuma 3, and Yuma 6.

The transfer of the jurisdiction of land to the army would be temporary, according to the interior department, and would last for a period of three years solely for border security purposes.

There have been a total of 811,016 apprehensions along the Southwest Border as of fiscal year 2019, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Last week Trump lamented the high costs illegal immigration has incurred on taxpayers.

“Illegal Immigration costs the USA over 300 Billion Dollars a year,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is no reason for this, and things are being set in motion to have this number come WAY DOWN. Democrats could end Loopholes and it would be a whole lot easier, and faster. But it will all happen anyway!”

Trump and a top immigration official said the administration is also working on ending so-called “catch and release” at the southern border, with the goal of shutting it down by early October.

Mark Morgan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters late on Sept. 18 that the administration is “confident that in a couple of weeks we’re going to be able to end catch and release at the southwest border.”

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Trump Denies Inappropriate Discussions With Foreign Leaders Following Reports on Whistleblower Complaint

President Donald Trump has dismissed reports that said he made an unspecified “promise” to a foreign leader, which reportedly prompted an unnamed official within the intelligence community to file a whistleblower complaint.

The details of the whistleblower complaint were reported by The Washington Post late Sept. 18, but specifics as to who the conversation was with or what was said are still not known. The Post cited two unnamed U.S. officials.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Trump took to social media to weigh in on the Post’s reporting, calling it “fake news” and denying accusations that he would “say something inappropriate with a foreign leader.”

“Another Fake News story out there—It never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!” Trump wrote on Sept. 19.

“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” he added.

The president then wrote in a separate post, “Presidential Harassment!”

The whistleblower complaint is at the center of a confrontation between Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire and the House Intelligence Committee. The committee’s chairman, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), issued a subpoena to Maguire on Sept. 13 to produce the complaint after Maguire repeatedly resisted the congressman’s request.

Schiff said that Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was “credible and urgent” and “should be transmitted to Congress.”

Before the subpoena was issued, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence defended their decision to withhold the complaint in a letter, saying that it contained confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community.

In response, Schiff said in a Sept. 13 letter accompanying the subpoena that Maguire’s failure to disclose the complaint “raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct.”

The general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, then responded to the subpoena in on Sept. 17, reiterating that the agency’s refusal to hand over the complaint is to protect the whistleblower. It argued that the allegations in the complaint did not meet the definition of “urgent concern” as that requires allegations involving “the funding, administration or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority” of the DNI.

Klitenic went on to say that the complaint “concerned conduct from someone outside the intelligence community and did not relate to ‘intelligence activity’ under the DNI’s supervision.”

On Sept. 18, the two sides appear to have reached a compromise with Schiff announcing that Maguire had agreed to testify publicly on Sept. 26.

“The Committee places the highest importance on the protection of whistleblowers and their complaints to Congress,” the California lawmaker said.

Meanwhile, Atkinson has testified behind closed doors to the House intelligence committee on Sept. 19, but according to the Associated Press, citing two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the inspector general did not disclose the substance of the complaint to lawmakers. The sources told the news wire that the meeting involved a discussion about the process for whistleblower complaints.

Speaking to reporters after the testimony, Schiff said he was concerned that Congress could not obtain the information, adding that what his committee is trying to do is to validate the whistleblower process.

“What’s at stake here goes well beyond this complaint and this president to whether any oversight is possible, any whistleblower is protected,” he said. “And we’re determined to validate that authority of the Congress.”

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Author: Janita Kan

Bill Would Bar Use of US Aid to Pay Families of Palestinian Terrorists Attacking Israel; Redirects Funds to ‘Iron Dome’

WASHINGTON—Millions of U.S. foreign aid dollars would be redirected to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system if the Palestinian Authority (PA) resumes using the funds to support families of terrorists killed in attacks on America’s strongest ally in the Mideast, under legislation proposed on Sept. 19.

The Iron Dome Reinforcement Act of 2019 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).

“The U.S. gives millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority (PA) every year, and it’s estimated that they spend at least 7 to 10 percent of their yearly budget as payouts and bonuses to the families of dead terrorists,” Budd said in a statement explaining his proposal.

Budd said the PA has received more than $5 billion in bilateral economic and nonlethal foreign assistance from the United States since the mid-1990s under President Bill Clinton, including $65 million in 2018 alone.

“That works out to as much as $6.5 million in U.S. taxpayer money potentially being handed over to terrorists and their families,” Budd continued. “The idea of my tax dollars going to fund terrorism is repugnant to me … it makes my skin crawl to think your money might be used for that activity.”

He said that “the Palestinian Authority has notoriously lacked transparency with their annual budgets, but Congress has the power of the purse and is ultimately responsible for where taxpayer dollars go.”

Budd’s proposal requires submission every six months of a certification “by the Secretary of State to Congress that contains a determination of the Secretary that the Palestinian Authority, including any ministry, agency, or instrumentality, or any official acting on behalf of any such ministry, agency, or instrumentality, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the case may be, has ceased the payment of any bonuses, financial compensation, or any other benefit not generally or otherwise available to the Palestinian population at large to the families of Palestinians killed in connection with … conspiring to commit an act of terrorism or the commission of an act of terrorism,” according to the bill text.

The same certification process would be applied to U.S. funds going to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was the forerunner to the PA and remains a part of the territory’s governing structure.

“It’s amazing that we even need a bill like this. Taxpayers deserve more oversight on where these funds go,” Budd said.

If the certification can’t be provided, then all of the funds would “be transferred and made available to the Secretary of Defense to provide assistance to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats.”

Since 2015, Israel has faced “a wave of terror perpetrated by individuals, many of them very young, inspired by vicious incitement in Palestinian social and traditional media and urged on by the Palestinian leadership,” according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The Palestinian Authority goes so far as to pay convicted terrorists a monthly allowance–the more serious the offense, the more money they receive. The families of terrorists killed by Israeli security forces during a terror attack receive a monthly ‘pension’ as well,” the ministry stated.

Eighty-four Israelis have been killed in the attacks and more than 1,300 have been wounded. The attacks have included 206 stabbings, 234 shootings, 75 vehicular attacks, and one vehicular bombing, according to the ministry.

Israel’s Iron Dome system includes ground- and sea-to-air missiles that are radar-guided to incoming targets, including enemy rockets and artillery shells.

Helicopters and drones can also be destroyed with the system that now has 10 batteries deployed, with as many as 80 interceptors in each launcher, and will include 15 batteries when it is completed.

Fifty-five percent of the system’s components are manufactured in the United States under contract by Raytheon. The U.S. military reportedly has purchased two batteries.

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Author: Mark Tapscott

Teen Arrested in Deadly Stabbing Filmed by Dozens in New York: Reports

The suspect accused of fatally stabbing a 16-year-old boy in New York was arrested and appeared in court.

Officials said 18-year-old Tyler Flach, of Lido Beach, faces second-degree murder charges, which carries a prison term of 25 years to life, WABC reported.

Flach is accused of stabbing 16-year-old Khaseen Morris. Reports said that the stabbing was recorded and watched by dozens of people near a strip mall in Oceanside on Sept. 16.

WABC reported that Morris was stabbed several times in the chest before he was taken to a hospital. He was later pronounced dead.

The incident involved as many as 50 teens, and police have suspected that it was started over a girl.

A group of teenagers looked on as Khaseen Morris, a 16-year-old student, was assaulted and stabbed in the chest. Some took out their phones and documented the fight on social media, but no one stepped in to help him. (WPIX via CNN)

In elaborating, officials stated that the fight was sparked by “a dispute over a young lady,” and Morris was apparently seen with her, USA Today reported.

“He came there as a partner with his friends to have this fight,” Detective Neil Delargy said of Flach. “He took it to the next level.”

Police are searching for seven to eight students who were with Flach during the incident.

According to Patch.com, officials said that Flach was not the girl’s ex-boyfriend.

Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said that “kids stood here and didn’t help Khaseen. They videoed his death instead of helping him.”

Superintendent of Oceanside High School Phyllis Harrington stated that the teen’s death was a “senseless act of violence,” according to the newspaper.

Tyler Flach in a mug shot photo (Nassau County Police)

“The kindness and generosity that you model for your children are what makes our community special,” Harrington said. “It’s those very values that will bind us together and get us through and keep us strong because we are anchored together by purpose, passion and people.”

Flach, meanwhile, will plead not guilty, his lawyer told CNN.

“Tyler strongly maintains his innocence, and took the responsible step of self-surrendering to eventually clear his name. At the appropriate time we will release vital information about what happened that’s not captured on video and that completely changes this case. Until then, we ask the community to reserve or judgment and pray for those who are suffering,” Edward V. Sapone, his lawyer, said in a statement.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said that more police officers would be assigned to patrol Oceanside High School and other schools.

“I want to plead with all our residents—not just our young people: If you see someone in serious danger, please use your phone to get help—not likes and shares,” she said.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said that witnesses need to come forward.

“There’s nothing more horrific in our business than the murder of a child,” Singas told Patch.com. “So if people have information about that, they need to come forward.”

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Author: Jack Phillips

Mother Accused of Killing 1-Year-Old by Rubbing Fentanyl on Her Gums Let Go on Bail

The Maine mother who authorities said killed her 1-year-old daughter by rubbing fentanyl on her gums was released on bail on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Kimberly Nelligan, 33, pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a scheduled drug.

She was released on bond but was told she cannot contact the baby’s father or have any unsupervised contact with minors.

According to WFMY, while in court, Nelligan made obscene gestures and mouthed vulgar phrases.

She is due next in court on Nov. 12.

“She has to submit to random search and testing and submit to a mental health evaluation and begin services for that,” said Penobscot County District Attorney Marianne Lynch.

According to court documents obtained by the Bangor Daily News, Nelligan, who was arrested on Tuesday, nearly one year after her baby died, had rubbed heroin residue on the gums of her two older children in the past.

On Oct. 10, 2018, police and fire officials rushed to the house when the mother said the baby had stopped breathing. The 1-year-old was rushed to a hospital but pronounced dead, the Bangor Police Department said in a statement this week. The cause of death was found by the medical examiner’s office to be probable toxic effects of fentanyl.

A fatal dose of fentanyl displayed next to a penny. (DEA)
Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed before a press conference regarding a major drug bust, at the office of the New York Attorney General, in New York City, on Sept. 23, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Nelligan initially denied using opioids but eventually confessed to using heroin once a week for the two months leading up to her girl’s death. The heroin came in small bags and she snorted it, she said.

The father of the baby told officers he witnessed Nelligan rub drug residue on their daughter’s gums about 15 times total when the girl wouldn’t sleep, according to the court documents.

He said Nelligan told him that she didn’t intend to hurt their daughter.

Lynch, the district attorney, said additional charges in the case are possible but declined to answer a question about whether the girl’s father could face charges, the Daily News said.

Lynch said the law surrounding child endangerment needs to be revised for cases when children are exposed to deadly drugs.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used for pain relief that was approved for treating severe pain such as advanced cancer pain and is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Drug Control and Prevention.

Fentanyl is abused by drug users and is sold illegally for its “heroin-like effect,” the agency said. “It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects.”

According to law enforcement officials, the rise in synthetic opioid overdose deaths is linked mostly to illegally or illicitly made fentanyl.

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Author: Zachary Stieber

NTD News Today Full Broadcast (September 19)

Iran warns of ‘all-out’ war over counterstrike from U.S., Saudi Arabia; Pompeo lays out evidence Iran behind Saudi attack; Canada’s Trudeau apologizes for dressing up in brownface in 2001; And Israeli leader Netanyahu invites rival to join in unity government.

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Author: NTDTV

Ivanka Trump Shares Warning to Other Parents After Daughter Hits Head

President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter issued a warning on Twitter about her daughter.

Mom of three Ivanka Trump revealed that her oldest daughter, Arabella, fell and hit her head.

“Yesterday Arabella slipped playing Gaga and hit her head hard (thankfully, she is fine),” she wrote, adding: “Parents/Caregivers: below is an excellent resource for concussions—or TBI—that is worth reading and passing along” before linking to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control website.

Gaga isn’t referring to the singer, but gaga ball, a variation of dodgeball.

NorthJersey.com says that the game is believed to have been started in Israel, and gaga means “touch touch” in Hebrew. It was played in Jewish summer camps in the 1970s.

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From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! xx

A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

The link (pdf) Ivanka shared includes what symptoms to look for if a child suffers a head injury during a game:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall

“Tell them to report their concussion symptoms to you and their coach right away. Some children and teens think concussions aren’t serious, or worry that if they report a concussion they will lose their position on the team or look weak. Remind them that it’s better to miss one game than the whole season,” the CDC says.

Ivanka Trump and her daughter Arabella Kushner walk down the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington on Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

It continues: “Children and teens who continue to play while having concussion symptoms or who return to play too soon—while the brain is still healing—have a greater chance of getting another concussion. A repeat concussion that occurs while the brain is still healing from the first injury can be very serious and can affect a child or teen for a lifetime. It can even be fatal”

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Author: Jack Phillips

US Bill Seeks to Ban Federal Government From Buying and Using Chinese Drones

A bipartisan group of senators are seeking to prevent national security risks associated with drones made in China by prohibiting the U.S. government from procuring them.

Named the American Security Drone Act of 2019 (S.2502), the bill introduced on Sept. 18 would ban federal departments and agencies from buying any commercial off-the-shelf drone or small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), either manufactured or assembled in countries deemed as being a national security threat to the United States. China was named among those countries, as well as Iran.

“China is STEALING our technology and intellectual property, yet the U.S. Government continues to buy critical technology, like drones, with American tax dollars from Chinese companies backed by their government,” stated Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.), in a press release from his office.

The bill was introduced by Senators Scott (R-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

“Like it or not, drones are our future. Without Congressional action, adversaries like China and Iran will use drone technology as tiny Trojan Horses to spy on our government, our critical infrastructure—even our hospitals and homes,” stated Blumenthal in the press release.

The bill would also ban federal funds from being awarded to contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements that would be used to purchase these drones.

In addition, the Comptroller General, who is the head of the Government Accountability Office, would be required to submit a report to Congress, detailing the current amount of such drones in the possession of U.S. federal departments and agencies.

Federal officials would need to stop using those drones within 180 days after the bill’s enactment.

Chinese Drones

“Chinese companies routinely steal and provide information to Beijing’s military and intelligence apparatus, and DHS [Department of Homeland Security] recently warned of the threat posed by Chinese-manufactured unmanned aerial systems and components,” stated Rubio, according to the press release.

In May, the DHS issued an industry alert about Chinese-manufactured drones, warning data from the machines could be compromised.

“The United States government has strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access,” the notice stated.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is a frequent user of non-military drones for different missions, such as supporting wildland firefighting, inspecting and mapping of dams and aircraft accidents, and monitoring volcanic activities.

According to a July 2019 report on the DOI’s drone usage, its nine bureaus—the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey among them—conducted 10,342 drone flights in 42 U.S. states and territories in 2018, with its fleet of over 600 available drones and 400 drone operators, who were certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and trained by DOI.

Among DOI’s fleet of drones are those made by Chinese drone maker DJI, which has dominated much of the world’s drone market for years.

Research firm Skylogic, in a 2018 market report, stated that 79 percent of commercial drones operating in Canada and the United States are manufactured by DJI. On the global market, DJI’s share stood at 74 percent.

Local authorities in the United States also rely on DJI drones. According to a 2018 report by the Center for The Study of The Drone at Bard College, at least 910 state and local police, sheriff, fire, and emergency services agencies in the United States use drones. 523 of them have purchased at least one drone from DJI.  This conclusion was based on local news reports, official records such as FAA aircraft regulations, and local government minutes and publications.

Citing government documents, Voice of America reported on Sept. 17 that the U.S. Navy spent about $190,000 and the Air Force $50,000 on DJI drones between August and November 2018. Neither agencies revealed details about what the drones were used for.

DJI is a private company, but has received millions of dollars worth of subsidies from the Shenzhen City government in southern China, where the company is based.

In a statement regarding the U.S. bill, DJI officials told the Wall Street Journal: “banning or restricting the use of drone technology based on where it is made is fear-driven policy not grounded in facts or reality.”

Pentagon

At a press briefing on Aug. 26, the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord spoke about the need to build up an American drone-manufacturing industry, as the “entire U.S. [drone] market” has been “eroded” by cheap Chinese drones.

“We don’t have much of a small UAS industrial base because DJI dumped so many low-price quadcopters on the markets. And we then became dependent on them, both from the defense point of view and the commercial point of view,” Lord stated, referring to drones propelled by four rotary blades.

She warned: “We know that a lot of the information is sent back to China from those. So it’s not something that we [the United States] can use.”

Lord added that in May this year, the Pentagon unveiled a program called the “Trusted Capital Marketplace” (TCM), to encourage investment from private capital investors into the defense industry.

TCM would first focus on attracting investments into the small drones industry, she said.

Concerns about Chinese drones are also included into the language of both the Senate and House versions of an annual defense spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. A provision is included to prohibit the Department of Defense from operating or procuring Chinese-made drones.

Both bills have been passed; both chambers will now iron out differences in their legislation and produce a compromise bill.

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Author: Frank Fang