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The world's largest consumer drone manufacturer, DJI, and SMIC, one of the largest chipmakers, have both been added to the U.S. government's buying blacklist, Reuters reported today.
The ban is an extension of the country's ban on Huawei's products, and likely will have dire implications for DJI's ability to sell its products in big-box stores and on sites like Amazon moving forward. Both SMIC and DJI had previously captured the ire of the U.S. government, with the Chinese government saying in September when news of a potential sanction on the chipmaker that the U.S. was "blatantly bullying" Chinese companies.
Government concerns over DJI date back to 2017, when the Army claimed the drones may be helping the Chinese government spy on the U.S. Those claims have been constantly refuted by DJI, but the Department of Defense issued a ban on purchasing off-the-shelf consumer drones in 2018. Since then, non-Chinese drone manufacturers have set up U.S.-based operations in the hopes of manufacturing drones to sell to the government and police that became hesitant to purchase DJI's.
There's no guarantee that the Biden administration will continue Trump's sanctions once sworn in, however.
"DJI is disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision. Customers in America can continue to buy and use DJI products normally," a company spokesperson told Protocol. "DJI remains committed to developing the industry's most innovative products that define our company and benefit the world."
Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.