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The Big Take

Drones Take Center Stage in U.S.-China War on Data Harvesting

China’s DJI makes most of the drones Americans use, and now it’s in the cross-hairs.

A DJI Inspire 1 Pro drone during a demonstration at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China in 2016.

A DJI Inspire 1 Pro drone during a demonstration at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China in 2016.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

In video reviews of the latest drone models to his 80,000 YouTube subscribers, Indiana college student Carson Miller doesn’t seem like an unwitting tool of Chinese spies. 

Yet that’s how the U.S. is increasingly viewing him and thousands of other Americans who purchase drones built by Shenzhen-based SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s top producer of unmanned aerial vehicles. Miller, who bought his first DJI model in 2016 for $500 and now owns six of them, shows why the company controls more than half of the U.S. drone market.