Outgoing US President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday that directs US departments and agencies to assess security risks from drones made by “foreign adversaries” and to prioritize removing them.
Trump stated that additional actions were needed for the security of US government-owner Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and “to secure the integrity of American infrastructure.” Because US government operations that use UAS involve data collection that could reveal sensitive information, the use of UAS manufactured and developed by adversary countries could allow this information to be accessed by foreign adversaries. The nation’s ability to produce UAS is “critical for national defense and the security and strength of our defense industrial base.”
The executive order defines “adversary country” to mean the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, or “any other foreign nation, foreign area, or foreign non-government entity engaging in long-term patterns or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national or economic security of the United States,” as defined by the Secretary of Commerce.
Executive department and agency heads will look into whether they could stop acquiring UAS through third parties and providing federal financial assistance to acquire those UAS. They shall then submit a report identifying authority to take action within 60 days of the order. The Director of National Intelligence is to review these reports within 180 days of the order, and to report security risks and potential steps to the president.