Conducting a secret drone mission? DJI wants to help you keep it incognito.
The drone maker is developing a "local data mode," which stops internet traffic to and from its flight control apps. This new offline mode will "provide enhanced data privacy assurances for sensitive government and enterprise customers," DJI says, and is slated to roll out to DJI apps in the next several weeks.
"We are creating local data mode to address the needs of our enterprise customers, including public and private organizations that are using DJI technology to perform sensitive operations around the world," DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman said in a statement. "DJI is committed to protecting the privacy of its customers' photos, videos and flight logs. Local data mode will provide added assurances for customers with heightened data security needs."
DJI explained that its apps normally communicate over the internet to ensure drones have the most relevant local maps, geofencing data, and other information that "enhances flight safety and functionality." When a pilot enables the new local data mode, the apps will stop sending and receiving data over the internet.
That, of course, means the apps will not update maps or notify pilots of newly issued flight restrictions and software updates. As a result, DJI warned that using this mode may result in "performance limitations." In exchange, you'll get "an enhanced level of data assurance for sensitive flights, such as those involving critical infrastructure, commercial trade secrets, governmental functions or other similar operations," DJI wrote.
In a statement, DJI's head of enterprise partnerships, Jan Gasparic, said the move is necessary as the company's customer base rapidly expands from hobbyists and personal drone pilots to pros as well as those in commercial, government, and education sectors. Those "customers have asked for additional assurances about how their data is handled," Gasparic said.
DJI said it only collects and/or has access to user flight logs, photos, or videos when a user opts to sync their flight logs with its servers, uploads photos and videos to its SkyPixel website, or physically delivers a drone to the company for service.
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